Pauloosie Keeyooktaq of Qikiqtarjuaq, the former Qikiqtani Inuit Association president who ran unsuccessfully in the recent QIA election, will represent his community and Clyde River at the territorial level after winning a byelection in the Uqqummiut constituency Feb. 9.
Keeyooktaq was the lone candidate from Qikiqtarjuaq and received more votes than two Clyde River candidates - 2013 runnerup Niore Iqalukjuak and former MLA James Arreak - who split the vote in their community.
"I'm going to have to meet with all the hamlet councils in Qikiqtarjuaq and Clyde River, and find out what I have to do after I hear from them," Keeyooktaq said. He will be in Iqaluit this week for orientation ahead of being sworn-in during next week's legislative sitting, Feb. 23.
Keeyooktaq earned 220 votes, including 16 from Clyde River. Iqalukjuak was second with 195 votes, including 12 from Qikiqtarjuaq. Arreak was well behind with 105 votes, including nine from Qikiqtarjuaq. Sandy Kautuq of Clyde River was disqualified early in the race due to his failure to resign from his government job before running.
Keeyooktaq replaces Samuel Nuqingaq, who defeated Iqalukjuak by two votes in a judicial recount ordered after an election-night tie. Nuqingaq missed the first week of orientation for new members in 2013, and was suspended on March 6, 2014. After being allowed to return for the fall session, Nuqingaq showed up for the Tuesday session opener, then failed to show up the next two days. It was the last straw for his fellow legislators, who expelled him Friday, Oct. 24.
"The member ... has been disciplined by the legislative assembly on a number of occasions for his unacceptable conduct," Justice Minister Paul Okalik's motion read, "including persistent absences from sittings of the house and meetings of its committees and caucuses without reasonable explanation."
Later it was revealed that Nuqingaq faced criminal charges of assault and unlawfully entering a dwelling with intent to commit an indictable offence. He is set to enter a plea Feb. 18 in Qikiqtarjuaq.
Nuqingaq was the first Nunavut MLA from Qikiqtarjuaq. His historic win was welcomed in the community at the time. Likewise, residents are celebrating Keeyooktaq's win.
"We were at the hotel (Inns North) last night with all the people down there," Keeyooktaq said, noting about 60 people gathered to hear the results and cheered when he won. Runnerup Iqalukjuak wished him success.
"Being an MLA or running for this position is no easy task and requires commitment and equal representation to the two communities that one is elected for, so congratulations Pauloosie and I wish you the best in representing us in your term as our MLA," Iqalukjuak posted on a community Facebook page.
Keeyooktaq was the QIA president in the late 1990s, and was dismissed in 2000 for breaching the organization's code of conduct. He ran for president again this past fall, but placed fourth out of six candidates vying for the role.