Territorial election campaign underway in Nunavut, Canada

The Nunavut Legislature prior to COVID-19 changes. Monday marks the first day of the campaign period to elect the next territorial government on Oct. 25. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

Election takes place Oct. 25. Anyone running for MLA needs to register with Elections Nunavut by Friday

The writ has dropped for Nunavut’s territorial election and Monday officially marks the start of the campaign to elect the next territorial government.

The election will take place Oct. 25.

There are 22 seats in the Nunavut Legislature, which has a consensus style of government.

Anyone who wants to put their name forward to run for MLA needs to register with Elections Nunavut by Friday at 2 p.m. ET.

Dustin Fredlund, chief electoral officer for Elections Nunavut, said Nunavut residents who aren’t in the territory can still vote either by mail or, in very extreme situations, by phone.

“Some of our citizens are working on fishing vessels off the coast of Greenland and won’t be able to get a ballot,” Fredlund said.

“They will be able to call us and vote by phone but to be able to do that, you need to meet some strict criteria.”

In order to qualify to vote in the territorial election, you need to have lived in Nunavut for at least one year.

Accomplishments and challenges

The fifth legislative assembly of Nunavut came to a close on Thursday.

On the last day of the Legislature, Premier Joe Savikataaq said he was proud of what his government has accomplished in the last four years.

Savikataaq said the territory has taken a step closer to being more self-reliant from the federal government. Some of his government’s accomplishments, he added, have been the implementation of a new mental health act, hiring 240 Inuit government employees and creating a new education act to better reflect cultural values.

But there have also been many challenges.

“COVID-19 did have a huge effect on our mandated accomplishments but we were able to work through it and still complete our mandate items,” Savikataaq said.

“Mr. Speaker, another reason that came up was the ransomware. Ransomware affected the government in a huge way. All the computers were not working anymore.”

‘You can make a difference’

Three current MLAs announced they will not be seeking re-election, including Allan Rumbolt who has served as MLA Hudson Bay for 13 years. The MLA for Uqqummiut, Pauloosie Keyootak, and the MLA for Iqaluit-Sinaa, Elisapee Sheutiapik, will also not run again.

But Sheutiapik encouraged people to put their name forward.

“You could be a hunter, you could be a welfare recipient. If you care for your community you can run for office,” Sheutiapik said.

“And I hope that today, that is still true because if you care and you have staff to help guide you to understand, you can make a difference.”

Despite a federal election campaign wrapping up Monday, Nunavut resident Angela Briffett said she doesn’t mind heading back to the polls in October for the territorial election.

“I think it’s a great opportunity, actually, for Nunavummiut to do it all at once, no delay,” said Briffett. “Out with the old in with the new, and hope for a better future for the territory.”

Nunavut resident Jennifer Moore says to her, the territorial election might have more of an impact on her everyday life compared to the federal election in a sense. She too says she doesn’t mind the back-to-back campaigns.

“I just go in and do my research and then I go and vote for who I think is best candidate.”

-With files from Jackie McKay and Matisse Harvey

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Arctic Council to celebrate 25th anniversary, Eye on the Arctic

Greenland: Greenland’s more prominent role on Arctic Council important signal to int’l community says foreign minister, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norway gets new government as voters make a forceful left turn, The Independent Barents Observer

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