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A chair fit for a speaker

Gift draws the audience's eye

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Cambridge Bay (May 28/01) - In the sporting world, it's what they call a win-win situation.

Speaker Kevin O'Brien's sore back gets a break and the food bank in Cambridge Bay gets a much-needed cash injection.

Who could ask for more?

"We wanted to do something special," said Keith Peterson, the mayor of Cambridge Bay.

The desire to officially commemorate the Legislature's sitting in the Kitikmeot region inspired a group of local leader-types to build a chair the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly would sit on while the session was under way in Cambridge Bay.

"It was an historic event and it gave us the opportunity to do something," said Peterson.

Knowing that everyone watches the Speaker -- O'Brien sits at the crux of the MLAs -- Peterson said the creators knew the chair had to be quintessentially Cambridge Bay. The pair of muskox horns adorning the left and right tips of the back of the chair achieve that goal.

"It shows we can do some pretty talented work around here," said Peterson.

Truly a thing of beauty, the chair is also the sort of gift that just keeps on giving. To pay for the functional piece of art, the Cambridge Bay business community raised $5,800 -- in just one day. After the final bills are paid, about $3,300 will be left over.

Peterson said the business community donated that money to the community's food bank. The financial boost means the needed resource will be able to plan ahead and order food to be delivered on the sealift.

But, all altruism aside, the question that remains is whether or not O'Brien is comfortable in the majestic chair.

"The chair at home is nice, but it's a little hard on the back," said O'Brien.

"This is the first time I don't have to put a book behind my back (for support)."

And, while many Kitikmeot residents have had the opportunity to have a gander at the chair, O'Brien said other Nunavummiut will get to have a look once the session closes.

"It will be displayed in the receiving area outside of my office (in Iqaluit) so people can see what a wonderful gift the people of Cambridge Bay gave us."