Nunavut politicians brush off activist’s concerns over people living in shacks - APTN NewsAPTN News

Nunavut politicians brush off activist’s concerns over people living in shacks

Kathleen Martens
Kent Driscoll
An Inuit-rights advocate says he’s banging into walls when it comes to getting help for the homeless from Nunavut politicians.

Qaumariaq Inuqtaqau runs the Facebook page Shame on Canada.

It’s where he posts candid interviews about social problems in the northern territory, with a special focus on dozens of people that live in unheated shacks despite the freezing cold temperatures.

In a video posted to the site last week, Inuqtaqau questioned Nunavut Premier Paul Quassa in an ambush-style video.

“…Could we go to the shacks? Could I show you?” Inuqtaqau says of the plywood homes just down the road.

But Quassa says, “I’m very busy right now,” before getting into a car and driving away.

Last week he filmed former premier Paul Okalik leaving a grocery store.

“Can we go to the shacks? I want to show you the shacks,” Inuqtaqau is heard asking on this video:

“You guys are Inuk leaders.”

But Okalik declined.

“No, I’m not a leader,” he said, while holding a bunch of bananas and a bottle of Perrier water.

Okalik was with his partner, Aluki Kotierk, who is president of the land claims organization Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI), which promotes Inuit rights and job training.

They both know Inuqtaqau and signed a petition he distributed in 2016 calling for more Inuit to be hired by local employers.

But on the video Kotierk appears to ignore him and get into a vehicle without saying anything.

“Ok, thanks. It’s going online,” Inuqtaqau says of the video.

Okalik, who could not be reached for comment, is no longer a public official. He was twice premier of the territory and twice elected a member of the legislative assembly. He ran again last fall but was defeated.

A spokesperson for Kotierk declined to make her available for an interview Tuesday.

APTN has reported on Inuqtaqau’s petition and lack of affordable housing in depth. Most recently in a documentary that can be viewed here.

“If you Google my name you see I’ve been working on this for two years,” Inuqtaqau said in a telephone interview.

“People in the shacks are suicidal, depressed. Meantime, our Inuk leaders choose to ignore them.”

APTN tried to interview Quassa last week in Ottawa at the annual Northern Lights Conference. But his spokesperson said he was too busy.

She said he was travelling Tuesday and unavailable for a telephone interview.

“They treat their own people like second-class citizens. We’re ghosts to them,” said Inuqtaqau. “If they’re not going to talk about it I might as well confront them on camera.”

Meanwhile, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett told APTN in January she is interested in visiting the shacks.

Inuqtaqau said he would like to introduce her to some of the people living there. Some of whom, he said, have been waiting for housing for 10 years.

Others, he said, are working but can’t afford to buy a house or rent a two-bedroom apartment for $2,600 a month in one of the most expensive cities to live in Canada.

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3 Responses to “Nunavut politicians brush off activist’s concerns over people living in shacks”

    Daphne February 11, 2018 at 8:14 am #

    Canadian Government gives millions to help other Countries. Why not help our Own North, It is embarassing not helping the homeless in our own territory as we fought for it, Who is fighting for us now? Who did the Government buy Earth from? It has taken over so much over the decades, money money money. Inuit of the North have been here for a Long time, and are seeing many changes due to Global warming and the Seal Debate. Just a piece of what I would like to share.

    Katherine February 7, 2018 at 1:05 pm #

    This home situation is devastating 🙁 and it breaks my heart, BUT this is the information you need: (click on Annual Report for 2016-17 for the most recent, up to date information)

    Everything anyone needs to know about housing is in this report- WHO to contact, WHAT is going to be done. PLANS for the future. HOW much money the government receives and WHERE they spend it.

    Those mentioned leaders are not apart of the Minister of Housing or the board team.. everyone has a specific job, and concerns about housing does not fall onto NTI, it’s a government of Nunavut’s responsibility and they have been working towards more affordable housing if you take a look at the 73 page annual report.

    Virian Parfeniuk February 7, 2018 at 4:37 am #

    This is so sad to have people in Canada living in conditions worse then a 3rd world Country. It gets 60 to 70 below up North and add into that the wind chill factor and you can see just how tough these people are. Lack of enough senior homes, the old are left to scrape out a living where they can and lacking jobs, the employable are left to apply for jobs given to non residents and they 2 scrape out a living the best they can. Their is a Treaty in place that says the Companies are to hire a certain percent of residents but it is ignored and not enforced by the leaders and the Government and so they are left to slowly starve or freeze to death. No job or part time wok is not enough for them to survive on and for sure not enough for them to rent a place to live. That is if their are any places to rent. Their are lots of buildings in the Communities but abandoned by the Govt and rotting away or unlivable because of asbestos and these people are told they are to expensive to renovate. The question I keep asking myself is why can these people not be trained to look after a house, plumbing, heating and repairs. Also why not teach them to build houses. This will help to put these people to work and to give these people places to live. They will be able to help themselves to survive but for some reason I feel the Leaders and Government have washed their hands of these people and could care less if they live or die. I am starting to think that the only care for the North our Leaders and Government have is how they can strip the resources and they would be happy if these people just died. I do not have very much extra money but I will go without a few things and send up North what I can so at least they can get a few meals that they would not of had or have a few pieces of warm clothing so maybe 1 less person will not freeze to death. I am not alone in this and we are but drips of water trying to fill a bathtub 1 drop at a time.