Aluki Kotierk, who is seeking re-election as president of land claims organization Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) on Dec. 14, has served in NTI’s top office since December 2016. Prior to that, she was director of Nunavut Tunngavik’s employment and training division. She has also held a number of deputy minister and assistant deputy minister positions with the Government of Nunavut.
Nunavut News sent the same seven questions to Kotierk and her challenger, Andrew Nakashuk.
Below are Kotierk’s responses.
1) What makes you the right person for the job?
Due to my experience, I am able to balance the priorities and interests of the different regions while working to advance Nunavut-wide priorities. I have strong communication skills, both in listening skills and speaking skills, to be able to convey messages with and listen to Inuit as well as to effectively advocate at the territorial, national as well as the international level.
As Inuit, ilagiingniq is a part of who we are. Knowing who we are related to reminds of us how we fill an important role in our families, in our communities, and in our society. Much like our kinship system, it is foundational to nurture relationships as NTI president, to ensure the effectiveness of the work. Like many of you, ilagiingniq is a core value of my existence and shapes and informs how I move forward on decisions in my professional life.
2) As NTI president, what would be your top priorities over the next four years?
My campaign priorities are rooted in what I envision for Nunavut. I envision a Nunavut where Nunavut Inuit are able to live their daily lives with pride and dignity, feeling supported to achieve their dreams, while being able to access programs and services that recognize Inuit culture and language. To live a good and empowered life, we need to have our basic needs met. We need to take good aspects from Inuit ways and marry them with good aspects of the modern world. We need to reclaim our pride as Inuit and live with dignity in our own homeland.
3) Nunavut Tunngavik recently stated that the Government of Nunavut has failed Inuit by passing Bill 25. What will you do to help overcome the lack of Inuktut education in schools from kindergarten to Grade 12 over the coming decades?
I will continue to offer proactive solutions to the challenges that the Government of Nunavut faces to implement Inuktut language of instruction in all subject areas and all grade levels. I am well aware of the importance of increasing the number of Inuktut-speaking teachers in the school system to achieve this and am encouraged to know that there is some commitment to work together as outlined through the Katujjiqatigiingniq Protocol signed between the GN and NTI.
4) How can NTI play a role in improving health outcomes for Nunavut Inuit?
NTI plays a role in improving health outcomes for Nunavut through the Inuit Crown Partnership Committee (ICPC). NTI is actively involved in the important work to tackle tuberculosis in our territory. In March 2013, the federal government committed to eliminating tuberculosis by 2030. NTI has continued to be clear that in order to make lasting improvements towards this goal, and to have a positive lasting impact on other infectious diseases such as Covid-19, basic social determinants of health need to be met such as addressing the housing crisis and strengthening food sovereignty.
5) Would you prefer to see more mining or less mining occurring in Nunavut, and why?
The Inuit negotiators who worked so hard to achieve the creation of Nunavut were great visionaries. In the Nunavut Agreement you will find provisions that set up Institutions of Public Governments (IPGs) that ensure that Inuit are involved as active decision-makers on these board structures. These board members have an important role in determining whether or not a major development project can go forward in Nunavut. Through this review process, board members must consider and balance the concerns raised by community members, community organizations, Inuit organizations, governments in a very holistic manner in terms of the impacts to the environment, including the land, sea and ice, to the wildlife which so many Inuit still rely on, to the economy and how it may benefit Inuit households, to the social fabric of the community and the lasting impact on Inuit culture. Ultimately, before major projects occur in Nunavut, the benefits must outweigh the impacts and Inuit have a pivotal role to play in determining that. I would continue to use these bodies and trust that the process will arrive at a decision best suited for Inuit.
6) What other forms of economic development would you support in the territory?
It is crucially important that Inuit have choices. We all have different passions and interests. I would support the strengthening of harvesting economies within Nunavut with the premise that there are untapped opportunities in food preparation economies, guardianship programs, intergenerational knowledge transference, etc. In addition, I would strongly support proactive measures to build Inuit capacity, particularly in the construction field. In June, the Government of Nunavut allocated $18 million for the costs of isolation hubs for construction workers coming in from outside Nunavut. Instead, I think these types of funds need to be invested in building Inuit capacity in the construction economy so, over the long-term, it can leave a positive and lasting benefit with Inuit.
7) Many Inuit want to see funds from the Nunavut Trust invested in the creation of new public housing. Is there any possibility that you would apply a portion of trust funds to building homes in the future? Why, or why not?
As part of the work to eliminate tuberculosis by 2030, the 2018 federal budget allocated $400 million for Inuit housing for the regions of Nunatsiavut, Nunavik and the Inuvialuit Settlement Area. This was in addition to the $240 million for Nunavut that had been allocated the previous year. To achieve some equity across Inuit Nunangat, NTI has been advocating for a Nunavut Inuit Housing Fund. Across Nunavut there is a housing crisis in all types of housing across the housing continuum. More discussions need to occur among Inuit organizations, including Inuit development corporations, but I know that there is a growing acceptance that Inuit organizations can play an important role in alleviating some of the housing pressures.