Few Nunavut candidates talk arts and crafts

One in five working Nunavummiut work in arts and crafts, yet there's been little talk of the sector in the Nunavut election campaign.
Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory is chair of Qaggiavut, the society working to create a performing arts centre in Nunavut's capital. (Ed Maruyama)

There hasn't been a lot of talk about arts and culture during this election campaign, but some people are working to change that.

The Qaggiavuut Society has been pushing for a performing arts centre in Iqaluit. Chairperson Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory says performing arts help keep Inuit culture and language alive.

“It’s really important that the Hansard's available in all our official languages, it's really important that signage is in all official languages, but that's not what's going to make our young people speak Inuktitut,” she says. “It is being so inspired by music, by arts, by something they've seen, something that's moved them...in their own language.”

Two Iqaluit-Tasiluk candidates have shown support for artists. Eva Aariak's brochure states that a performing arts centre is important. And Travis Cooper wants to see artists have a program similar to the hunter support program.

South Baffin candidate Tommy Akavak told the CBC the government has done a good job of providing tools to artists. Now he’d like to see more support for marketing Inuit art.

The 2010 Nunavut Economic Outlook notes that the dollar value of arts and crafts in Nunavut is small compared to the billions spent on mining, construction and government operations. However, it’s estimated that one in five working Nunavummiut are in arts and crafts. That number is even higher in Cape Dorset.

The economic outlook also notes that the arts sector -- including things like performing arts, music, film and television-- also has a great impact on quality of life and mental health. It’s also “a productive outlet for people uninterested in jobs in the public service, construction work, mining or other camp work,” and an important income supplement.

Disabilities group also wants on the agenda

Wendy Ireland says disabilities are a new topic for Nunavut, but she'd like to see more talk about helping people with disabilities stay at home. 

“It's quite sad when a family member has to live somewhere else just to get your basic necessities met in the community where you're living where you want to live," says the executive director of the Nunavummi Disabilities Makinnasuaqtiit Society.

Ultimately, Ireland would like to see an advocate for people with disabilities, similar to the recently created child and youth advocate office.

Ireland says Iqaluit-Manirajak candidate Monica Ell outlined accessibility in her platform. Gjoa Haven candidate Linda Hunter also told the CBC that she’ll be working to help people with disabilities, if elected.



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