Views of parity road show vary
Yes and No supporters view campaign as effective or ineffective

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (May 19/97) - People of Nunavut were visited last week by the Yes campaign for gender parity.

Perceptions of the campaign and the issue vary dramatically from one side to the other.

Lucasi Ivvalu, a confirmed No supporter, said only a handful of people showed up for a meeting held May 9 in his home Igloolik. He was not among them.

"Nobody went to the airport to meet these people," he added. And after the meeting, said Ivvalu, the Yes campaign hosted a radio call-in show.

Ivvalu's neighbor, James Ungalaaq, is on the Yes side of the issue. He was at the meeting, and said 30 to 40 people attended -- "It wasn't a crowd."

"I think there were more No supporters there than Yes supporters, that they wanted to hear what the Yes side had to say."

Ungalaaq said gender parity got a cool reception in Igloolik, but people are warming up to it as they learn more about it.

"I think it's growing, and it's really growing fast. Our mayor, for instance, was a No supporter when the issue first came out. Now he's wearing all these purple buttons over his jacket and hat."

The purple buttons, distributed by the Yes campaigners, say "I Understand."

Ivvalu said the Yes side is having little effect in Igloolik.

He said there was "a very negative response" to a radio show the Yes people hosted. "Yes forces have had very little impact here. They have almost no support."

Like Ivvalu, Ungalaaq made up his mind on the issue early. "The first time I heard of it, I said, 'Now that's the kind of government we need.'"

Asked why he is on the No side, Ivvalu said "just out of common sense. If you start drawing lines between anything, everybody starts looking at the lines.

"Men and women have been working together side by side for years here."

All Nunavut voters get a chance to have their say on the issue next week. The public vote on the issue will be held May 26.