Natan Obed was re-elected president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) with a majority vote in Inuvik August 16.
“I’m very pleased. The confidence that Inuit have placed in me to be the National Inuit leader is something I take very seriously. I feel like I did this job to the best of my abilities in my first term, and wanted to continue the good work that we’re doing on things like suicide prevention, housing, education and language,” said Obed. “So to have that confidence in me from Inuit leadership means so much to me and I’m really excited for the next three years.”
Former Nunatsiaq MP Peter Ittinuar and former policy analyst Peter Williamson were also in the running for the presidential position.
In Obed’s campaign speech, he emphasized the importance of continuing to expand ITK’s work with the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy.
“We’re in year three of implementation of the 2016 National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy. On day one of the strategy, we had $9 million over three years allocated from health strategy. So the next phase of our implementation will hopefully be a ten-year strategy,” he said.
ITK is working with the federal government to develop a ten-year investment and action plan to continue the suicide prevention strategy.
In addition to continuing work to prevent suicide among Inuit, Obed said another priority in his next term will be to push for more control over the funding Inuit regions receive.
“The ability for Inuit regions to decide how money for Inuit flows into their communities and who delivers that and the terms of that delivery, that’s an important step in self-determination and one that ITK has been pushing with this federal government,” he said. “Inuit regions are responding to that in different ways, but the key consideration now is that Inuit regions have the ability to decide. So perhaps in some cases, the territorial or provincial government will still deliver the program or the service, but maybe in partnership with the Inuit region rather than just in a bilateral relationship.”
Obed said ITK will also be working to improve housing, tuberculosis elimination, children and youth initiatives and the creation of First Nations, Inuit and Metis federal language legislation.
He added that it is important to him to ensure that all 51 Inuit communities are considered when doing this work.
“There is lots of work to do across the four Inuit regions,” he said. “I look forward to the next three years of working as ITK president and ensuring that we move towards self-determination in all of the work that we do.”