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Time to congratulate
Solid support, mild disappointment from KIA president
to appointment of Denis Patterson to Senate

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, September 2, 2009

KIVALLIQ - The head of the Kivalliq Inuit Association has no problem with the recent appointment of Dennis Patterson as Nunavut's representative in the Senate.

Jose Kusugak said it's time to congratulate Patterson, not condemn the selection of a non-Inuk.

NNSL photo/graphic

Kivalliq Inuit Association president Jose Kusugak was not upset when Dennis Patterson was named Nunavut's representative in the senate earlier this month. - Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

He said once people get used to the idea, they'll realize Patterson brings a lot of skills to the position.

"I was at the Val-d'Or airport in Quebec with the mayors of Arviat and Baker Lake when the news came out," said Kusugak.

"Our reaction was the same as those across Nunavut, in that everyone was surprised to hear Patterson was our new senator because he wasn't on the mind of most people.

"But, after the original shock, everything fell into place.

"He's a Conservative, selected by a Conservative government, and he has a right to be appointed."

Kusugak said it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that many Inuit were hoping an Inuk would be named to replace outgoing senator Willie Adams.

He said that hope had nothing to do with anyone being anti-Patterson.

"We were hoping for an Inuktitut-speaking person to be named, but it didn't matter if it were an Inuk or qallunaat, that's not the point.

"The point is the ability to communicate with unilingual people in Nunavut.

"We were also hoping whomever was selected would be someone who was actually living in Nunavut."

Patterson, a longtime Northern politician now living in Vancouver, will be sworn into the Senate's eight-year term on Sept. 15.

A former NWT premier, Patterson was heavily involved in negotiations for the creation of Nunavut, as well as both the Inuit and Inuvialuit landclaim agreements.

He has four children and two grandchildren who are Inuit landclaims beneficiaries.

Kusugak said he's worked with Patterson on a number of occasions and was impressed by his work ethic.

He said Patterson will do his best for Nunavut, and to make the rest of Canada better-understand Nunavut.

"He's kept himself very well versed on Nunavut politics, and he's done some lecturing at Nunavut Arctic College in Rankin Inlet.

"He's as well versed on Nunavut and Arctic issues as any Northerner.

"He also has some very good views on what the first 10 years of Nunavut was like, so it's not like he cleaned the soles of his feet when he moved south."