Former Inuit leader to receive Canada’s highest civilian honour

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Former Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada on Dec. 27, 2018. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)
Nunavut’s former premier Eva Aariak was named to the Order of Canada by Governor General Julie Payette on Thursday along with more than 100 others.

Aariak was recognized as a member of the order for her dedication to promoting Inuit culture and languages.

Members are chosen for their outstanding contributions at the local or regional level, or in a special field of activity.

Aariak says she’s proud to receive the award and aware that many others in Nunavut are deserving of the honour, but have not yet been recognized.

“I was very surprised. In fact, I thought it was a prank call when I had the call the first time,” said Aariak. “Once I realized it was real I was very humbled by it.”

Close to 7,000 Canadians have been recognized with this high civilian honour since it was established in 1967. In total, Payette made 103 appointments: two Companions of the Order, 15 officers and 86 members.

Investiture in 2019

Aariak was Nunavut’s second premier, she also worked as an Inuktitut teacher, a CBC reporter, and was the territory’s first language commissioner.

Originally from Arctic Bay, Nunavut, she now lives in Iqaluit where she owns a store, Malikkaat, selling Inuit-made goods and crafts.

Last year, several northerners were invested into the order as the year came to a close. This year, Aariak is the only person appointed from the three territories. Appointments are made twice a year, around Canada Day and New Year’s.

She will be officially invested at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa in the new year.

Related links from around the North:

Canada: Canadian government invests over $35M to preserve Indigenous languages in the North, Radio Canada International

Finland: Bilingual Finnish-Sámi teaching to start in Helsinki school, YLE News

Iceland: Arctic language survival – Iceland to the rescue?, Blog by Takeshi Kaji

Norway: Repressive policy deprived Sámi people of language, culture : Norway’s prime minister, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Report sheds light on Swedish minority’s historic mistreatment, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska Senate joins House in declaring Native languages emergency, Alaska Public Media

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