Duane Smith re-elected chair of corporation representing Inuit in Canada’s western Arctic

Duane Smith has been re-elected as the chair and CEO of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)
Duane Smith will serve a second term as chair and CEO of the Inuvialuit​ Regional Corporation (IRC).

“Thank you for putting your trust, your faith in me,” said an emotional Smith following Tuesday’s vote in Inuvik, Northwest Territories.

“I’m choking up here.”

Smith beat out six other candidates: Wayne Gordon of Aklavik, Merven Gruben of Tuktoyaktuk, Richard McLeod of Inuvik, Randal Pokiak of Tuktoyaktuk, Kenneth Ruben of Paulatuk and Kurt Wainman of Inuvik.

Smith won a majority, receiving 25 of the 42 votes cast. Ruben came in second with 11 votes, Gordon, Gruben and Wainman each got two votes, and McLeod and Pokiak got zero.

The IRC is the body elected to represent Inuvialuit (Inuit) interests.

Smith was first elected chair of the council in January 2016. He also served as president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada.

Ahead of the vote, Smith said his goal, if re-elected, is to “revitalize and celebrate the Inuvialuit cultural identity and values.”

He also wants to be a good steward of Inuvialuit lands, promote a healthy lifestyle, support education and continue to “assert Inuvialuit rights and benefits through the implementation of the IFA [Inuvialuit Final Agreement].”

The chair of the IRC is voted in by directors from the Inuvialuit Settlement Region’s six community corporations. The communities of Aklavik, Inuvik, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Tuktoyaktuk and Ulukhaktok all have a community corporation comprising six directors and a chair. Only community corporation directors can cast a ballot for IRC chair.

With files from Mackenzie Scott

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Northwest Territories government and Inuvialuit want to develop their own gas resources in Arctic Canada, CBC News

Finland: Climate change, birth rate should be Finnish gov’s top priorities: report, Yle News

Norway: “The ‘Smart Arctic’ is Indigenous,” Saami leader tells Arctic Frontiers, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia’s Far East ministry to get powers over Arctic policy, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish PM Stefan Löfven unveils new cabinet, Radio Sweden

United States: Inuit leaders to advance Indigenous human rights, Radio Canada International

Sidney Cohen, CBC News

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