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Calling all mayors

Kathleen Lippa
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Mar 22/04) - The scratchy phone line from Iqaluit to Sanikiluaq suddenly became clearer.

"Hi, can I speak to Annie?"

"Which one?" the pleasant woman on the phone in Sanikiluaq asked.

"The mayor, Annie."

"Oh," she said, starting to laugh. "I am afraid that would be me!"

Despite her joking "fear" of being on the phone with a reporter, Annie Amitook wanted to talk. But she explained "I have 10 people sitting here right now."

Reaching mayors around Nunavut can be like going on a great fishing expedition. Sometimes you can catch them in action. Many times you do not.

Last Tuesday, March 16, before noon, every hamlet office in the Kitikmeot region, as well as Kimmirut, Sanikiluaq, and Cape Dorset, was contacted by Nunavut News/North.

Some mayors were there. Many were not.

Travel and days jobs take them away.

Kimmirut mayor Joe Arlooktoo was at a justice committee meeting in Panniqtuuq on Tuesday and was expected back Friday.

Normally, Arlooktoo visits the hamlet office daily. When he is not working as mayor, he sits on various committees.

Cape Dorset mayor, Matthew Saviajuk Jaw, had just left the hamlet office and did not tell the secretary where he was going or when he'd be back.

"He comes here for a couple of hours in the morning and afternoon, and on his own time," she said.

Jaw doesn't mind giving out his home number to people if they want to reach him about town matters.

When he is not working as mayor, he enjoys carving in his spare time.

In Kugluktuk, mayor Stanley Anablak has his own office, a different number than the hamlet.

Gjoa Haven mayor Peter Akkikangnaq was not at the hamlet Tuesday morning.

Besides his mayoral duties, he runs a convenience store and owns heavy equipment.

Taloyoak mayor Jayko Neeveacheak works for Polarnet with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association. He is at the hamlet office whenever there is a council meeting, "or whenever we need him," said the hamlet office secretary.

Kugaaruk mayor Canute Krejuark arrives at the hamlet office every day and is around from 4 to 5 p.m. He also works at the health centre as a janitor, and has been an x-ray technician for 15 years.

Cambridge Bay mayor Terry McCallum, Nunavut's most recently elected mayor, was easy to reach at his public works office Tuesday morning.

He doesn't have an office at the hamlet, and staff will quickly give you his day job work number.

McCallum, pleasant and soft spoken, mentioned that he was going to be in Iqaluit soon and we could do "a more in depth interview" at that time.

Being mayor, "is not a full time thing in many communities in Nunavut," McCallum said. "Maybe in Iqaluit it can be, but not here."