Nunavut election: Iqaluit-Sinaa candidate profiles

Former premier Paul Okalik faces off with Feeding My Family's Leesee Papatsie.

Iqaluit-Sinaa is a new constituency and it includes some of the city’s poorest sectors. The majority of the city’s public housing lies here, as well as a few homeowners and some renters in the 8-story and Creekside Village apartment buildings. The four candidates here all promise to be their champions. All of them have strong connections to the city, and all speak English and Inuktitut.

Solomon Awa

Originally from Pond Inlet, Solomon
Awa, 54, moved to Iqaluit in 2000 where he works as the project coordinator on the Baffinland file for the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.Awa also worked for the Nunavut government where he provided cultural orientation for staff, among other duties.  He has been involved in the local Hunters and Trappers Organization.

Awa says he’s running to “give a voice for the people.” His chief concern is improving social well-being through things like healing programs, addictions treatment, mental health and preventative health care. He also wants to improve education, and prepare people for mining jobs.

Awa, a hunter, carver and sewer himself, also wants to strengthen the traditional economy. “We need to develop more community-based solutions so that country food would be more easily available,” he says. And he says, we need to support hunters.


NatsiqKango, 56, grew up in Iqaluit but spent 18 years in Arctic Bay before coming back to the capital in 1991. Together, she and her husband ran 13 different businesses in the High Arctic, including a hotel, convenience and grocery store, a Yamaha dealership and an outfitting and guiding business.

In Iqaluit, they’ve kept up the entrepreneurial spirit with TNG Automotive, among other businesses. Kango has served as an Iqaluit city councillor and as secretary/treasurer for Nunavut Tunngavik. She was also president of the Midwives Association of Nunavut from 2001 to 2007, and later a member of the council for the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada.

Kango says she running to help create a better relationship between the government and Iqalummiut; she’s worried that the city is growing too fast, and leaving many people behind.

Paul Okalik

Originally from
Pangnirtung, Paul Okalik, 49, first ran for public office at age 34, fresh from becoming the first Inuk lawyer from Nunavut. He went on to become Nunavut’s first premier, serving 9 years in this position. He was re-elected in 2008 but lost the premiership to Eva Aariak.  Okalik served as a regular MLA and then became Speaker in 2010.

Okalik resigned from the legislature in 2011 in order to run as a Liberal in the federal election (an election he lost to Conservative Leona Aglukkaq). He spent the last two years working as a facilitator with the Nunavut Planning Commission and doing legal work for the Nunavut Employees Union.

Now he says his work in politics is not finished, particularly when it comes to education, supporting post-secondary students, and mental health. “My experience and my education can help the next government make some progress.”


By day, she’s an educator with Parks Canada, but after hours,
LeeseePapatsie, 47, is known mostly for her activism work and Facebook site, Feeding My Family, which she created in 2012. The site quickly attracted 19,000 members and helped spark food price protests in several Nunavut communities.

Papatsie grew up in Iqaluit-Sinaa, close to the graveyard. She studied Environmental Technology at Nunavut Arctic College, and later taught there. She says she’s running in this election because: “I want to help the people. I believe I could do it.”

If elected, Papatsie hopes to keep working on food security and related issues like income support, poverty reduction, education and health awareness. She also wants to help more people understand government and what it can do for them.


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