Nunavut MLAs, premier and cabinet were sworn in Tuesday despite severe weather that shut down most of Iqaluit.

Schools, government offices, and many businesses in Iqaluit were closed since Monday following strong winds that reached up to 110 km/h, according to Environment Canada. On Tuesday, roads were in icy conditions as temperatures ranged from just above 3 C to below zero.

Yet the chambers of Iqaluit's Legislative Assembly were full, with children viewing the ceremony from the gallery.

Nunavut fifth legislative assembly swearing in

MLAs waiting to be sworn in at the Legislative Assembly in Iqaluit Nov. 21. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

All MLAs were sworn in, followed by the first sitting of the fifth Legislative Assembly which unanimously passed the motions to recommend the Commissioner of Nunavut appoint Paul Quassa and the seven cabinet ministers. 

But it wasn't smooth-sailing for all members of the legislature. Uqqummuit MLA Pauloosie Keyootak, sworn in earlier Tuesday, was banned from the sitting because he failed to file his financial returns with Elections Nunavut — a mandatory process for all incoming members to the legislature.

This is the second assembly in a row Uqqummiut has had a shaky start with their MLA. In 2013, Samuel Nuqingaq missed MLA orientation and part of the leadership forum and was disciplined as a result.

Keyootak has until the end of December to file returns in order to take part in the winter sitting of the assembly in March.

Cabinet portfolios assigned​

In a news release, Premier Quassa announced portfolio assignments for himself and his cabinet. Those assignments include:

  • Premier Paul Quassa — Minister of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs

  • Joe Savikataaq — Deputy Premier Minister of Family Services, Minister responsible for Homelessness

  • Elisapee Sheutiapik — Government House Leader, Minister of Economic Development and Transportation and Minister of Environment

  • David Akeeagok — Minister of Finance

  • Pat Angnakak — Minister of Health and Minister responsible for suicide prevention

  • Jeannie Ehaloak — Minister of Justice, Minister responsible for Qulliq Energy Corporation and Minister responsible for Status of Women

  • David Joanasie — Minister of Education, Minister responsible for the Nunavut Arctic College and Minister of Culture and Heritage

  • Lorne Kusugak — Minister of Community and Government Services and Minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corporation

1st bilingual cabinet in history

Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak says she was honoured to become the official MLA for Cambridge Bay Tuesday.

"I'm very humbled," said Ehaloak, shortly after being sworn in. "As promised, I will work hard."

For the first time since Nunavut's creation, all of the cabinet members are bilingual in English and at least one dialect of Inuktut (the term for all Inuit languages, including Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun and Inuvialuktun).

"I think it will be positive," said Ehaloak, who speaks Innuinuqtun at home.

She says she'll work on strengthening her dialect over the next four years, to be comfortable speaking it publicly.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement on Tuesday.

"I look forward to working with Premier Quassa and the new government," Trudeau said.

"By coming together in a spirit of cooperation, I know we can deliver true, meaningful reconciliation between Canada and Indigenous peoples, and bring about a better quality of life for Indigenous peoples in Nunavut."

With files from Jane Sponagle and Priscilla Hwang