Natan Obed acclaimed president of national Inuit org in Canada

A file photo of Natan Obed, Health issues will continue to be among his top priorities as president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the national Inuit organization in Canada. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

This will be Obed’s 3rd term in the position — and his final, he says

For Natan Obed, taking on the role of president of the national Inuit representative organization after being the only candidate to come forward has not much to do with a lack of interest in the job, and hopefully, he says, to do with Inuit’s faith in him.

“I would like to think that part of this is based on my record and the belief that Inuit have in me as a leader,” he said.

Obed is the acclaimed president for the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK). He was the sole candidate to complete the certification of nomination requirements for the organization’s presidential election by Wednesday when the nomination process formally wrapped up.

This will be Obed’s third term in this position, after first being elected in 2015, and being re-elected in 2018. His new term will last four years (according to the organization’s updated bylaw in 2020).

Health issues among priorities

ITK is the national representative organization for Inuit in Canada, the majority of whom live in Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit homeland encompassing 51 communities across the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (Northwest Territories), Nunavut, Nunavik (Northern Quebec), and Nunatsiavut (Northern Labrador).

Obed said he’s thankful that he can keep working with Nunangat regions and Inuit across Canada to continue to push for things like housing, eradicating tuberculosis, greater health care, the implementation on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, murdered missing Indigenous women and girls, suicide prevention and more.

“I’m thrilled to be reelected,” he said. “I am now able to work with many other people to help try to make a difference for Inuit.”

As he looks toward his next term — which he said will be his last — he says now is a “pivotal moment” when it comes to Inuit-specific recognition in the way that the federal government works with Inuit.

“We are at the verge of finalizing an Inuit Nunangat policy that the Government of Canada would adopt,” he said.

“That is a huge departure from the way in which we have always worked, which is piecemeal, which is trying to find sympathetic voices within specific departments, and then trying to educate them about who Inuit are, and how to interact with Inuit.”

Annual general meeting in September

Greater unity among Inuit is another aspect he hopes to work on in his role.

“We are one people across Nunangat, we have a common language, we have a common culture,” he said.

“But we also have different land claim agreements, we have different colonial institutions that have changed … the way that we think and the way that we interact with one another.”

With the federal election looming, he said regardless of who becomes the next MP for Nunavut, he aims to have a “productive and healthy relationship” with them.

ITK’s annual general meeting is set for Sept. 29-30 at the Aqsarniit Hotel and Conference Centre in Iqaluit, Nunavut, news release from ITK stated, “in strict accordance with public health guidelines.”

-With files from Meral Jamal

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Liberals, Conservatives announce candidates for Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, CBC News

Norway: Are Norway’s energy policies caught between ‘black gold’ & green ambitions?, Blog by Marc Lanteigne

United States: Biden admin goes back to drawing board on oil leasing in Arctic Refuge, Alaska Public Media

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