Charlie Watt is out of a job.
In an upset defeat, Watt has been tossed out of his job as president of Makivik Corporation after a concerted anti-Watt campaign by the Inuit of the five communities closest to the proposed Great Whale River hydro project.
“He’s gone!” said a jubilant Harry Tulugak, the former mayor of Povungnituk. “I’m very positive of the outcome.”
“People on the Hudson Bay coast were saying we have the numbers, we have the people, we have the votes, and yet nobody gives us due respect,” said Annie Tulugak, a member of Makivik’s board from Povungnituk.
Watt, who is a Liberal Senator, got 1,030 votes against former Inukjuak mayor Simionie Nalukturuk, who won 1,203-
Watt came under fire for the poor state of the Inuit economic and for prematurely entering an agreement with Hydro-Quebec on the Great Whale River project. Watt was also criticized for his high-flying ways, which were documented in a recent Maclean’s article that was widely circulated before the election [see Briefs, page 7].
Anti-Watt sentiment ran especially high in Povungnituk, which participated for the first time in great numbers in a Makivik general election this year.
“People in Povungnituk were feeling left behind on a number of important issues,” said Annie Tulugak.
She said Inuit were also frustrated by a lack of democracy and debate under Watt. “We associate Watt with the old mentality where nobody has a say, except those who are working with him. What’s been happening in Makivik after 20 years of the James Bay Agreement is people are not used to debating and talking.”
Matthew Mukash, chief of Whapmagoostui, was hopeful about the election result.
“I think there’s going to be closer relations between the Inuit and the Crees because with Charlie Watt that was almost non-existent.”