Elders recognized as keepers of Inuit heritage and culture through awards

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Elder Joseph Niptanatiak of Kugluktuk was invited to the Kugluktuk Hamlet office during the Jan. 7 council meeting and he presented with an Elders Recognition Award from Inuit Heritage Trust (IHT).

Joseph Niptanatiak received his Elders Recognition Award from Kugluktuk deputy mayor Simon Kuliktana, right, at the hamlet council meeting on Jan 7. The award was issued by Inuit Heritage Trust. Joining Joseph are his children Anita Niptanatiak and Colin Niptanatiak.
photo courtesy of Ron Ladd/Hamlet of Kugluktuk

“He was very happy about it,” said Joseph’s son Colin, who was able to be in attendance along with Joseph’s daughter Anita. “It was nice.”

Other 2019 Elders Recognition Award winners were Aksakjuk Ningiuk of Grise Fiord, Simon Oleekatalik and Bernadette Uttaq of Gjoa Haven, Bartholemy Nirlungayuk of Kugaaruk, Monica Aqittuq Ugjuk of Rankin Inlet, Rosalie Sammurtok of Chesterfield Inlet and Lizzie Ittinuar of Chesterfield Inlet and Rankin Inlet.

The awards, which come with a $1,000 prize, are handed out every second year to acknowledge elders who help other Nunavummiut better understand Inuit culture, heritage and archaeology, according to the IHT. That description very much fits Joseph Niptanatiak, according to Colin.

“He’s been involved with that kind of stuff pretty much all of his life, as far as I can remember. He’s always been part of a board or a group, that sort of thing,” he said. “He’s always been helpful that way, the knowledge he likes to pass on.”

According to the IHT website, “many of the elders have worked within the schools teaching skills to younger children and generally sharing their knowledge. They have also played an invaluable role to the work of IHT in sharing traditional knowledge about place names, archeology, oral history and how to appropriately deal with Inuit cultural materials.”

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