The deputizing of Nunavut
Three Inuit, two southerners, six Northerners named deputy ministers

by Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 02/98) - Nunavut's government is beginning to take shape with last week's appointment of its first deputy ministers.

"I'm optimistic," said Marius Tungilik, the newly appointed deputy minister of personnel, last Thursday.

"Nunavut is a little bit like trying to eat an elephant. But now we can cut it into more manageable pieces."

All deputy minister will be located in Iqaluit, despite plans laid in the Footprints 2, the main guiding document for the new territority, to decentralize government departments in 11 Eastern Arctic communities

"Their departments may be decentralized to other communities, but the deputy ministers will be located at the capital," Tungilik said.

Here are Nunavut's deputy ministers:

Joe Kunuk of Iqaluit is the deputy minister of Department of the Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs. Kunuk is a former Iqaluit mayor and is presently a high-ranking official with Nortext, a printing company based in Ottawa, which prints the Iqaluit newspaper Nunatsiaq News.

Robert Vardy of St. John's, Nfld., is the deputy minister of finance.

Robert Moody of Halifax, N.S., is the deputy minister of education.

Ken McCury of Iqaluit, now the interim chief executive officer of the Baffin Regional Health Board, has been named the deputy minister of health.

Nora Sanders is the deputy minister of justice. She is currently the assistant deputy minister of justice with the territorial government in Yellowknife.

Peter Ernerk of Rankin Inlet is the deputy minister of culture, language, elders and youth.

David Kravitz of Iqaluit becomes the deputy minister of public works, telecommunications and technical services. He is now the principal secretary to Interim Commissioner Jack Anawak.

Mike Ferris of Iqaluit, the regional superintendent of municipal and community affairs for the GNWT, becomes the deputy minister of community government, housing and transportation.

Katherine Trumper of Iqaluit is the deputy minister of sustainable development. She is currently the assistant deputy minister of resources, wildlife and economic development.

Marius Tungilik is the deputy minister of personnel.

The clerk of Nunavut's legislative assembly will be John Quirke, who is currently with the division secretariat of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs in Iqaluit.

"I think we've got an excellent team," said Tungilik.

It has yet to be determined when the deputy ministers will take their positions. It will depend on their availability and current commitments.

"It should be on stream very soon," he said.

Before the deputies take their positions they will have to go through an orientation session, which will probably include a planning session. But that's not confirmed yet, said Tungilik.

Three of the 11 deputies are aboriginal, two are women and two are from the South.

A selection committee made up of Jack Anawak, two members from the territorial government, the federal government and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. hired Caldwell Partners to make the selections.

The new bureaucrats will report to Anawak until an election reveals a legislative body and departmental ministers.

"I think they're shooting for February so that they can be sworn in on the first of April," said Tungilik, referring to Nunavut's first election.

Representation questions

The ink on the DMs' contracts is barely dry, but already their selection is raising questions.

Interim commissioner Jack Anawak spoke with Rankin Inlet hamlet councillors last Monday to discuss issues surrounding Nunavut's Implementation plans, only to hear that some councillors are taking exception to the new hires.

"There's only three Inuit here, it's really noticeable," said councillor Joe Kaludjak.

Kaludjak said some people may be upset with the deputy ministers, especially since it was agreed upon in Footprint 2 that 50 per cent of government employees would be Inuit.

Sensing debate, Anawak through a translator then asked for a closed meeting and requested the media leave the room.