Herb Nakimayak, the MLA for Nunakput, is trying to become the next president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council’s Canadian chapter.
Nakimayak is one of three candidates, alongside Okalik Eegeesiak and Monica Ell-kanayuk from Nunavut. The election takes place at the chapter’s AGM on July 15 in Utqiaġvik, Alaska – formerly known as Barrow.
The Canadian chapter’s leader represents the interests of Canadian Inuit on the Inuit Circumpolar Council’s executive, which in turn advocates for all Inuit in international affairs.
Nakimayak told Cabin Radio he has a particular interest in regulation of marine traffic as the Northwest Passage opens up to more shipping.
“I have a diverse background in environment, that’s always been close to me,” he said by phone on Monday.
“We continue to do our sustainable development work to improve the quality of life for Inuit and Indigenous peoples in circumpolar regions. I’d like to continue that work. I think, with changing climate, we need to be able to react faster and look at different models.”
Nakimayak also wants to improve communication between the council and Canada’s federal and territorial governments.
“We live in a society here where, as you see in the news – when we’re sitting in session [at the legislature], there are a lot of complaints, so much that it clouds all the work being done,” he said.
“I think we need to change our way of thinking and our dynamic so we work better together to things done.”
Nakimayak, born in Inuvik and raised in Paulatuk, has been the Canadian chapter’s vice-president for international affairs since July 2014. In November 2015, he was elected MLA for the Nunakput region, which encompasses Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Tuktoyaktuk and Ulukhaktok.
President of the council’s Canadian chapter is considered a full-time position.
Danielle Mager, at the territory’s legislative assembly, told Cabin Radio there are no rules preventing Nakimayak from assuming the role, if elected, while remaining an MLA.
“There’s nothing in our legislation that requires any member to resign as an MLA to take on other full-time duties,” said Mager on Monday.
Nakimayak said he would be ‘likely’ to stand down as an MLA if successful in his run for the chapter’s presidency.
“They’re both very important positions to work with and both very meaningful,” he said.