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Looking back on politics

Karetak-Lindell talks of what she's done and what she has left to do

Christine Kay
Northern News Services

Arviat (Aug 05/02) - For Nancy Karetak-Lindell, being the only Member of Parliament to represent the largest riding in Canada, has been a constant challenge.

NNSL Photo

Nancy Karetak-Lindell, MP, represents Nunavut and its people when Parliament meets in Ottawa. - photo courtesy of Nancy Karetak-Lindell

She has been MP for Nunavut since 1997 and said that having this position in April 1999 - when Nunavut became its own territory - was something she will never forget.

"It's something I can tell my children. I can tell them I was involved in one of the most historical changes in the country," said Karetak-Lindell.

This was a special accomplishment for her after growing up with her uncle, Tagak Curley, who was the first president of Inuit Tapirisat of Canada or ITC (now ITK). She lived with him as a high school student when he worked to make the federal government understand why Inuit should be recognized as their own people and have their own territory.

"I have been lucky enough to participate in the final stage of this. Maybe not the final stage, but a new stage," she said.

And now, Karetak-Lindell works on showing her colleagues in Ottawa the needs of people living in the North. She said the biggest need is to be on the same playing field as the South.

"Calling 911 in Grise Fiord is still different than calling 911 in Ottawa," said Karetak-Lindell.

She also hopes to provide an understanding of Nunavut. This is an important, part of making sure legislation passed in Ottawa does not hurt the way of life of the Inuit. Hunting practices, she gives as an example, must be considered before cruelty to animals legislation can be passed.

Karetak-Lindell said she spent her first term as MP learning the job and in the second term, she felt grounded. She said she knows her priorities - and her biggest is to try to get as much interaction as possible between her office and the communities.

At the same time, she admits she is unable to get to all communities in her riding.

"But I have a very understanding riding. No one understands the limits of travel as much as the people in the North," she said.

Karetak-Lindell is not sure what she will do when her present term comes to an end.

She is a mother of four and said that together with her work it has been very challenging.

"If I can make a few more people aware of their rights and how to exercise them then I will feel I've done something," said Karetak-Lindell.

After enjoying her vacation this summer in Arviat, Karetak-Lindell will leave her home town once again and return to Ottawa.