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The many degrees of intellect

Derek Neary
Northern News Services
Monday, March 26, 2007

IQALUIT - Iqaluit Mayor Elisapee Sheutiapik enjoyed the national spotlight, but she doesn't put much stock in the reason she was in front of the television cameras last week.

Sheutiapik was one of the participants in CBC's Test the Nation: IQ challenge, which was broadcast coast to coast on March 18.

In this case IQ had nothing to do with Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (traditional knowledge), it was all about intelligence quotient.

Sheutiapik was on a team of mayors from across the country that placed fourth out of the seven groups competing on the program.

Their mean IQ - based on 60 questions on a variety of subject areas - came in at 110, which is average. Teams of surgeons, millionaires and fitness instructors all managed to score higher.

"It's very different when you're in the studio. The clock is ticking away, it's very difficult," Sheutiapik said of the pressure to answer correctly.

The math questions in particular gave her fits, she admitted. All the x's and y's in the formulas made them hard to follow. On the other hand, she said she did well with the visual memory questions.

She was briefly interviewed on air by the show's co-host, Brent Bambury, who recognized her as the mayor who travelled farthest to be present (a distinction that actually belonged to Whitehorse mayor Bev Buckway).

"It was fun," Sheutiapik said of the experience.

Sheutiapik's personal IQ result remained unknown as of Thursday.

She said a representative from the national broadcaster mentioned that individual test scores would be e-mailed last week, but a cold kept her away from work and her office e-mail account.

Regardless, mayors have to rely on skills other than mental gymnastics, according to Sheutiapik.

"Being able to have the patience to listen, definitely," is an important trait, she said of life in politics. "Usually if someone comes to me with an issue I listen to them and tell them I'll get people to get back to them."

Sheutiapik said she thought the tattoo artists would win the Test the Nation (they came in second last, just ahead of the celebrities).

She's afraid of needles, she noted.

She met a few of the millionaires on the program including one who owns a magazine, and she's trying to convince him to visit Iqaluit, she added.