With four candidates, this race could go in any direction. The incumbent, Hezekiah Oshutapik, won this seat in a 2011 by-election. One of his challengers, Johnny Mike, lost that election by just 50 votes, but is back again to vie for the seat along with the mayor and a political newcomer.
“The new food mail program is still not working and the people that are on income support are the ones that are suffering the most.” So says Harry Dialla, 54, who spent 20 years working for the Nunavut government as a social worker, human resource officer and as regional manager for income assistance. “A single person here gets $388/month for food allotment and that’s not enough to survive on.”
Dialla has spent his whole life in Pangnirtung, including a dozen years working for Auyuittuq National Park. He says he wants to focus on some local issues: the airstrip, the dump that blows smoke and garbage right through town, and the dust that gets worse each year.
But first he’ll have to win the election. “The other three candidates have all been mayors before so I’ll have my work cut out for me,” he says.
Johnny Mike, 58, is a businessman trained as a heavy equipment mechanic. He spent ten years as president and CEO of Nunavut Investment Group and served as Qikiqtaaluk Corporation’s president. He also worked for Qulliq Energy Corp., first as a plant superintendent and later as a board member.
Mike has also been involved with the Pangnirtung HTO, Cumberland Fisheries and Pangnirtung Fisheries. He’s running because: “I think there are some issues I can contribute to in the economic development section in Nunavut, namely in the fishery and energy field.”
If elected, he’ll push hard for more research into the local beluga stock. He also wants to build an access road to the other side of Pangnirtung (Kinngait Fiord). And he wants to help a group of people in Pangnirtung who hope to relocate back to an outpost camp known as Opingnivik.
Hezekiah Oshutapik, 57, was born and raised in Pangnirtung. He finished high school in Iqaluit then continued on to become a journeyman plumber by trade as well as an oil burner mechanic.
He worked as a housing maintainer for the housing authority, spent two terms as mayor of Pangnirtung and was chair of Pangnirtung Fisheries for six and a half years.
Oshutapik has already spent two years as an MLA. "I want to continue serving my community as a representative," he says. "I'm mainly just concerned about no response from ministers during my time."
If re-elected, he says he’s work on relocating the air strip and finding a way to control the dust in summertime. “And to assist homeowners as much as possible. They’re lacking support from our government, as far as I know.”
Sakiasie Sowdlooapik, 56, spent 17 years as a Park Warden and visitor service manager with Auyuittuq National Park. He spent another 15 years as a wildlife officer, including a year-long stint as fisheries and sealing advisor to the government.
No stranger to politics, Sowdlooapik was a two-term mayor and has been involved with the hamlet council since 1992. He’s also a past chair of the district education authority, sits on the board of the Nunavut Trust, has chaired Atuqtuarvik Corporation for the past six years and been Kakivak Association’s vice-chair for about six years.
“I like lobbying and negotiations,” he says. If elected, he wants to focus on stronger mental health programming, better wildlife and environmental management, and doing more to support children in school. He’d also like to see better housing, support for homeowners and a cancer screening program for all Nunavummiut.