Debate heating up
Rankin Inlet group rallies against gender parity

by Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

RANKIN INLET (Mar 25/97) - On May 26, Nunavut residents will be going to the polls to decide on gender parity.

But, before Rankin Inlet residents mark their ballots, they will hear from Qauliqtuq, a local group rallying for the no-vote.

Theresie Tungilik, a spokesperson for the recently formed group of elders said if Nunavut votes for dual representation and gender parity, women's rights and freedoms will be lost.

"I would not want to win a position just because of my gender," said Tungilik. "Really, do you think with what's between your legs or what's between your head?"

She went on to say that one of the reasons the group was formed was to bring the whole story of gender parity to the people of Nunavut. Something Designated Inuit Organizations (DIO) like Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA) and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) have failed to do so far.

They should take a neutral, unbiased voice rather than promoting a yes vote, she said.

"These DIOs have been voted in to represent the people, not dictate the government they want to see," Tungilik said.

On March 7 NTI president Jose Kusugak issued a press release urging all Nunavut residents to support gender parity.

He said his executive and board will begin an information plan to assure that the people of Nunavut have a clear understanding of the gender parity and dual constituency issue.

In the meantime, Tungilik said Qauliqtiq will hold a meeting in Rankin Inlet and respond to any concerns the public might have before the public vote takes place.

The polls are open to individuals 18 years and older who have resided in Nunavut since May 26, 1996.

Voters lists will be posted in communities in Nunavut no later than April 18.

Eligible voters whose names do not appear on the list may apply to the returning officer by May 8 at 3 p.m. to have their names added.

Head polling officer David Hamilton will organize and conduct the vote. Advance polls will be held May 15. Proxy voting will be available from the returning officer in each community.

Students who are eligible to vote but are attending school away from home can vote by proxy.

The federal government will cover the cost of the public vote which is estimated at $350,000.