Nunavut election: South Baffin candidate profiles

Four challengers take on the controversial incumbent Fred Schell.

The incumbent, Fred Schell, ended his first term in the legislature on a high, making headlines for his vehement opposition to the Nutrition North program. However, in four years, he was found to be in breach of ethics on two occasions, the latter breach causing him to resign from cabinet after sitting as minister without portfolio for seven months.

In this election, he’ll face two challengers from Cape Dorset (Mathew Jaw and David Joanasie) and two from Kimmirut (Tommy Akavak and JoannieIkkidluak), which makes the outcome of this race hard to predict.

JoannieIkkidluak ran in 2008, coming in second behind Fred Schell. Mathew Saveakjuk Jaw ran for this seat in 1999 but placed last.

Tommy Akavak

Tommy Akavak, 52, grew up in Kimmirut and finished high school in Iqaluit. He spent 11 years working with Nunavut Parks. He also worked as a field service officer (or what is now called a government liaison officer) and as acting SAO for the hamlet for a year.

Akavak served on Kimmirut’s hamlet council in the 1980s and 1990s and says he’s running in this election “to try something different and help out my community and also Cape Dorset.”

If elected, Akavak wants to focus on health communities (with good housing and social programs), revitalizing Inuit culture, marketing arts and crafts and boosting the tourism industry in South Baffin. He also wants to create a bright future for kids, take care of the elders, support harvesters and create business opportunities.


​JoannieIkkidluak, 68, grew up in Aberdeen Bay, between Kimmirut and Cape Dorset, and moved to Kimmirut as a teenager.

He’s worked as a school janitor and as director of the Lake Harbour housing association, but he’s mostly well known as a skilled carver and lay leader of the Anglican Church in Kimmirut.

Ikkidluak has a long political history, beginning in the 1970s and 80s as a hamlet councillor and deputy mayor. He spent decades as a director (and past president) of the Kimik Co-op. But most of his work has involved wildlife: 13 years as chair or director of the KimmirutHTO; over twenty years on the Qikiqtaaluk Wildlife Board (he was elected president many times); three years with the Nunavut Wildlife Advisory Board; and many years with the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, of which he was a founding member.

Mathew Saveakjuk Jaw

Mathew Saveakjuk Jaw, 63, is a hunter and carver from Cape Dorset who spends much of his time taking students or people recommended by the justice committee out on the land. He grew up in an outpost camp and earned an outfitting/guiding certificate in Pangnirtung and Cape Dorset in the early 1990s.

In the 1990s, Jaw was the mayor of Cape Dorset for six years. He’s also been involved with the local hunters and trappers organizations and as a representative with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, back when it was still called the Baffin Regional Inuit Association.

If elected, Jaw says he’ll try hard to do what his constituents wants. “I’m going to be very open to them, from the young people to the elders,” he says. “I’m going to talk about everything so we can work together.”  

David Joanasie

At age 30, David Joanasie is the youngest candidate in this election. He grew up in Cape Dorset, then spent two years at the Nunavut Sivuniksavut college training program in Ottawa.

He spent another four years in Ottawa working as a youth coordinator and information officer with Inuit TapiriitKanatami. He then moved to Iqaluit to work with the Nunavut government in communications and policy. Most recently, he’s handled communications with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.

Joanasie admits he’s “brand new to politics of this magnitude.” His platform focuses primarily on families and young people, and includes a strong emphasis on traditional culture and formal education. “I believe we have to be firmly rooted in both Inuktitut and English to succeed in today’s world,” he says.

Fred Schell

Originally from Winnipeg, Fred Schell, 61, has lived in Cape Dorset since 1990. He’s worked in construction most of his life and owns a hotel and construction business in Cape Dorset.

Schell spent three years as mayor of Cape Dorset before being elected MLA in 2008.

Schell says his first term in office “has been a humbling and a learning experience.” He also says there’s still a lot of work that he’d like to continue, especially when it comes to keeping the government accountable. His top issues? Infrastructure in smaller communities; ending social promotion; and building treatment centres for people with drug and alcohol problems.


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