NTI candidate: Cathy Towtongie wants to address high cost of northern living

'Nunavut has to look at improving airline services because we have no highways,' says Cathy Towtongie, one of four candidates for president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

Towtongie wants to see improvements to airline service and education

Incumbent Cathy Towtongie is hoping to return to the role of NTI president. (submitted by Nadia Ciccone)

Nunavut Inuit, enrolled or eligible to be enrolled under the Nunavut Agreement, will vote for the next Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president December 12. CBC North is profiling each of the candidates. We will post one per day for the week — in alphabetical order. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Name: Cathy Towtongie
Born: Coral Harbour
Inuktitut speaker: Yes

Cathy Towtongie is the incumbent NTI president. She attended the University of Lethbridge for business administration and completed the University of Saskatchewan's Native Law program.

Towtongie first entered politics in 1973 when she became the secretary/treasurer of InuitTapirisat of Canada (now Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami).

Towtongie was first elected president of NTI in 2001, and served one term until 2004. In 2010, she was elected president again in a byelection and was re-elected for the presidency in 2012. 

What are some of the areas you want to focus on if you were the next NTI president?

Towtongie wants to focus on youth, elders, transportation and the high cost of living in Nunavut.

"Nunavut has an issue with airlines," she said. "Nunavut has to look at improving airline services because we have no highways," adding delays and cancellations are particularly hard on people who have to travel for medical reasons.

She also said she wants to do more to address the needs of elders in Nunavut communities and prevent elder abuse.

What will you do for the future of youth?

"I signed the out-of-court settlement for NTI for $255.5 million. Of that, $175 million will be for training and employment of Inuit."

In 2015, the federal government agreed to pay $255.5 million to compensate Nunavut Inuit as part of an out-of-court settlement that resolved a nine-year-old, $1-billion lawsuit that Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. filed in December 2006.

Towtongie said that if she is re-elected as president, "education will be geared towards employment, including apprenticeship programs.

"Youth need more encouragement to stay in school, there needs to be better instruction in Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun."

with files from Salome Awa and Lucy Burke