'I'm honoured and humbled': Natan Obed re-elected as president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

The vote was held Thursday morning in Inuvik, N.W.T. The position of president is a three-year term.

Vote was held Thursday morning in Inuvik, N.W.T.

Natan Obed at Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami's annual general assembly in Inuvik. He was re-elected as president of the organization on Thursday. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

Natan Obed has been re-elected as president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

The vote was held during the group's annual general meeting Thursday morning in Inuvik, N.W.T.

"I'm honoured and humbled for your faith in me for a second term. I'll do my best to continue implementing our strategy and action plan," Obed said in his acceptance speech.

"I'm very thankful for the opportunity to hold this job."

Two other candidates were vying for the organization's top job — Peter Williamson, a former policy analyst, and former MP Peter Ittinuar.

I appreciate the faith that you've shown me.- Natan Obed

All of the candidates had a chance to speak before the vote. Obed used his time at the mic to focus on successes in his first term, especially work he's done on suicide prevention among Inuit.

"I'm happy to say that within the first nine months of my term we've been able to release [a suicide prevention] plan and we've spent the last two years implementing it," he said.

"I appreciate the faith that you've shown me and I ask for another three years to continue to implement this ambitious mandate."

The vote took place during the organization's annual general meeting. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is a national organization representing 65,000 Inuit living across Canada and in communities throughout Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut in Newfoundland and Labrador and the N.W.T.'s Inuvialuit Settlement Region.

There were 13 eligible voters, all of whom voted. The president of the organization holds a three-year term. Obed was first elected to the job in 2015.

During his first term as president, Obed was outspoken about the high rate of suicide in Indigenous communities and climate change, and said that he found the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos team name racist.

Right after it was announced that Obed won the election, Duane Smith, chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, gifted him an Edmonton Eskimos hat, which garnered laughter from Obed and others in the room.

Priorities, priorities

After the election, Obed took some time to speak to CBC about his priorities going forward.

Aside from continuing with initiatives he started in his first term, Obed acknowledged a federal election is coming up. Calling the ITK non-partisan, he said he wants to continue the work his organization has done with the current government with whomever wins the next federal election.

"We've championed this with the federal government and with anyone else who will listen, the idea that when [it] comes to decision making, there is a specific Inuit space," he said. 

"Thirty five per cent of Canada's land mass, 50 per cent of its coastline is inhabited entirely by Inuit, managed through land-claim agreements and in many cases co-managed on things like land development and land administration.

"We need to utilize that policy space and think about solutions through that lens so some Inuit regions aren't left behind when it comes to individual funding pots or individual policy areas." 

With files from Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi