Anyone who calls Nunavut home – as I have had the pleasure of doing for more then 34 years – understands a challenge of this great Territory is distance and uniqueness. There are many mutual concerns, strengths and issues that unite all the Nunavut communities that are home to around 39,000 people. However, with no two communities directly connected, it would be wrong to not recognize the unique cultural, geographical and economic differences that are unique to each community and region of Nunavut.
For more than five of the 34 years I have called Nunavut home I have had the honor and privilege of being President of the NEU and working with the incredible individuals that make up the Nunavut Employees Union (NEU) Executive. Part of the responsibility of each member of the Executive is to represent the area that they were elected from and to ensure that the NEU recognizes the unique concerns and issues faced by Members in those communities and regions. This must be accomplished within the framework of the overall issues that face the more than 4,900 NEU Members that make Nunavut work on the Territorial and municipal levels.
Almost one in eight people who call Nunavut home also call the NEU their Union and that makes meeting their needs an important challenge and a great honor and privilege. The NEU, the Executive and I do indeed work for those that make Nunavut work.
The question is how do we meet the mutual and unique challenges and the answer is through strong and functioning Locals that properly represent the communities that they are based in. It also means maintaining a strong, professionally staffed and available Head Office in Iqaluit and Regional Offices in Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet.
As per my vision and under the direction of the Executive, Rick Roberts, the NEU’s first Vice-President has joined the NEU Head Office on a one-year basis to work closely with Joe Sageatook, the Nunavut Education/Service Officer to form more effective and responsive Locals. Under this important initiative, we have established new Locals in Arctic Bay, Cape Dorset and Resolute Bay. Prior to this, Members in these three communities were part of a larger Iqaluit-based, pan-Baffin Local.
These new Locals (subject to official confirmation by the NEU Executive) will better represent their respective communities and Members. This will be accomplished by having locally-based Officers who are in a better position to understand, represent and be more available to their fellow Members who are also their neighbors and fellow community members. This is a large part of my vision and the Executive’s desire to make the NEU more accessible, local and responsive.
To better strengthen the NEU’s ability to represent Members, we have also hired a new Iqaluit-based Service Officer, Stephen King and moved Joe Sageatook to the new and important role of Education/Service Officer. We are also in the process of hiring a new Cambridge Bay based Service Officer to replace Lori Morina who retired after almost eight years of excellence serving NEU Members.
We will continue to develop community-based Locals and I look forward to telling you about this and other accomplishments on the road to a more responsive, available and Local NEU. I also look forward to presenting these and other accomplishments, as well as recognizing and meeting emerging challenges, at the upcoming 2020, NEU Eight Triennial Convention. Please watch your email, the NEU Website and the upcoming December 2019 NEU newsletter for more details about this Convention and the NEU’s strategy and my vision for the NEU.
While I have your attention, there are two other topics I would like to address in my message:
- Collective Bargaining with the Government of Nunavut (GN): On November 18, 2019 the Nunavut Employees Union (NEU) filed a Statement of Claim in the Nunavut Court of Justice asserting that the Government of Nunavut (GN) has engaged in bad faith bargaining. Please click here to access the Bargaining Update and the actual Statement of Claim filed (as a PDF in English only as this is a legal document). If you are a GN-employed Member and did not received the #6 update by email it is probably because we do not have a personal email for you. Due to the Ransom ware incident suffered by the GN, we cannot use Members' GN emails until the GN has fully restored email and related IT systems.
- PSAC North Convention June 5-7, 2019 in Whitehorse, Yukon: As discussed above, local representation and voices are important to a responsive union. The NEU is part of the PSAC and PSAC North. We always encourage NEU Members to participate in the PSAC for the same reasons we are setting up community-based Locals. Please click here or visit psacnorth.com to find out more about how you can attend the 2020 PSAC North Regional Convention.
William (Bill) Fennell President, NEU