All three candidates here speak English and Inuktitut and have a long history with the community. That could make this race one to watch.
Peter Alareak, 68, was born near the old Hudson Bay Company post Padlei, about 100 miles west of Arviat, but he moved to the coast when he was 7 or 8 and has lived there and in Chesterfield Inlet for most of his life.
Alareak started his career working with several mining exploration companies, including a year underground at the Sherritt Gordon mine in Manitoba. His work with the Kivalliq Inuit Association dates back to the 1970s: he was once the group’s president and is currently a board member. He’s also spent some time with Kivalliq Partners in Development and served two terms with the Nunavut Planning Commission.
Alareak says he’s running in order to try to improve things in Arviat. “It’s a very big community,” he says. “It’s the same size as Baker and Rankin and when it comes to the economy, jobs, etc., those kind of things are way behind and I’m tired of seeing it.”
Originally from Coral Harbour, Airo Pameolik settled in Arviat at age 22. He spent most of his working life with the local housing authority and the hamlet. In 2006, he launched his own construction company, Panaainaaq Construction, which has primarily worked on building public housing.
Pameolik has never been much involved in politics, but at 61, he says it’s time to pitch in. “The mandate of the government is supposed to be about self governance for the people and I want to help make this work.”
He says his number one concern is with the education system, and the growing number of high school graduates who don’t qualify for higher education programs or who struggle if they do. He also wants to see more efforts to get more Inuit working in government, and a new conversation about community empowerment and how people can get involved in governing themselves.
Joe Savikataaq, 52, studied renewable resources at Fort Smith in the 1980s and has been a wildlife officer ever since, first in Rankin Inlet, then Repulse Bay, and finally back in his home town of Arviat. He served on Arviat’s hamlet council for about 20 years and says territorial politics is the next logical step.
If elected, he says his main focus will be on educating people to the same standard as southern communities. “There are jobs here but we always have to import workers,” he says. Savikataaq also wants to create some kind of affordable home ownership program that can help people who don’t qualify for public housing.
The ongoing negotiations between the Nunavut government and the Manitoba Dene are another concern for Savikataaq. “They’re at the final stages of it and it’s not a very good deal for the people of Arviat, and we’re the community that’s going to be affected by it.”