Nunavut election: Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet

Candidate profiles of our political newcomers, hoping for a spot in this new constituency.

This is a new constituency that makes way for four political newcomers.

Donna Adams

​Originally from Arviat, Donna Adams, 42, has spent about 18 years in Rankin Inlet. She’s worked as a cultural support worker, and a mine training coordinator. She’s also a former hamlet councillor, past president of the Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council, current secretary/treasurer with the Kivalliq Inuit Association, and a member of the Rankin district education authority.

In 2011, Adams chaired the Nunavut Liquor Act Review Task Force, which visited each of Nunavut’s communities (“nothing low profile about that one,” she says). That experience led directly to her number one campaign issue: working to create alcohol treatment centres and rehab programs.

Adams also wants to see more services and infrastructure in Rankin and Chesterfield. For example, she says, more and more people from the region are travelling to Rankin for health care, yet there is still no medical boarding home for those who can’t get home in a day.

Qilak Kusugak

​Qilak Kusugak, 38, grew up in Rankin Inlet. He attended Nunavut Sivuniksavut in Ottawa, then tried out Lakehead University before returning to Rankin to work for the former Government of the Northwest Territories before division, first doing casual work with municipal and community affairs, then as a lands administrator.

When the Nunavut government opened, Kusugak was the first manager of lands. He went on to work for the Nunavut Planning Commission, then spent the last decade with the Kivalliq Inuit Association, where he’s currently director of planning and implementation.

Kusugak says he’s running in order to build on the strengths already evident in Rankin Inlet, and to try bring more prosperity to communities like Chesterfield Inlet. “We do have a base here for a great little economy. Now we need the infrastructure to compliment it.”


Harry Niakrok

​At 50, Harry Niakrok describes himself as unemployed, but he has a long history in management. He studied public administration in Fort Smith and later on the job. His most recent position was regional director for Health and Social Services for the Kivalliq region.

Niakrok also managed the local housing association. Before that, he spent ten years managing the community program for the Nunavut Housing Corporation in Arviat.

Niakrok says he knows how government works, but he’s fed up with the pace of action. For example, he’d like to see the government show some commitment to its obligation under the land claim to employ more Inuit. Another example is the suicide prevention strategy, which he says has produced enough studies and reports. “We need to start putting out some actual programs and get the money flowing to communities.”  

Tom Sammurtok

Tom Sammurtok, 66, is originally from Chesterfield Inlet and still has strong family ties there. He moved to Rankin Inlet in the summer of 1983 and has lived there ever since, outside of a four-year stint in Iqaluit working for the Nunavut Implementation Commission.

Sammurtok spent 30 years working with government, most of that time in senior management, and says he’s familiar with the issues and how things work. He retired last year after working as a business development officer with Sakku Investments, and says “that’s given me time to think about what’s happening with our territory.”

He’s particularly concerned with the high suicide rate, which he says has affected him personally over the years. He’s also worried about education. Sammurtok says he’d like to see Nunavut graduates going on to university, instead of going back to school for upgrading.


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