Legislature in session
Rankin sitting to combine business, celebration

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (Feb 23/00) - With its members trumpeting the benefits of bringing the government closer to the people, the Nunavut legislative assembly began its Rankin Inlet session last Thursday.

The session began with the Speaker's procession and the placing of the assembly's impressive mace by sergeant-at-arms Lizzie Ittinuar.

After an opening prayer by elder Mariano Aupilardjuk, O Canada was sung by the Leo Ussak elementary school choir.

Mariano's wife, elder Marie Aupilardjuk, lit the qulliq, Johnny Aupilardjuk performed a drum dance and the choir performed the Nunavut Song before the Speaker's opening remarks.

Education Minister James Arvaluk says it's great to have the legislative assembly sitting outside of Iqaluit.

Arvaluk says the sitting taking place in a school gymnasium surrounded by bright, eager students made the feeling even more special.

He says the Rankin sitting will help the people in the Kivalliq better understand just how the legislative assembly functions.

"It's hard for people when they only hear it on the radio, see it on TV or read about it in the papers," says Arvaluk.

"Basically, what they are getting is a final decision. By having the assembly here, they have the chance to see how those decisions are reached.

"This is a very important process. Our decisions aren't made overnight and it's beneficial for Kivalliq people to see the work involved."

Arvaluk says the visit also allows regional special interest or lobby groups to voice their concerns to their MLAs and ministers.

He says not everyone can afford to travel to Iqaluit to meet with MLAs in one spot.

"This is, in many ways, a continuation of the community consultations and meeting as a group is always helpful.

"However, at the same time, people have to realize that other members of the community want to have a celebration with the MLAs with other social functions.

"So, we'll have to balance it out so that it's not all business and the opportunity for the community's desire to conduct social functions with the MLAs is provided."