Ell-Kanayuk new president of ICC Canada

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Former Nunavut deputy premier and cabinet minister Monica Ell-Kanayuk was elected president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) Canada July 15.

photo courtesy Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada
Monica Ell-Kanayuk, right, takes over the presidency of the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada from Nancy Karetak-Lindell, left, after an election held July 15 in Utqiagvik, Alaska.

(Updated July 18, 2018)

“I’m overwhelmed. I’m very excited,” said Ell-Kanayuk.

“I’m excited to be working hard for the next four years on behalf of Inuit in Canada, and bring issues to the table internationally.”

Ell-Kanayuk adds there are many issues, including Indigenous knowledge, knowing your rights as an Inuk, social issues, among others for the betterment of Inuit.

Ell-Kanayuk, who is from Iqaluit, takes the place of outgoing president Nancy Karetak-Lindell.

Okalik Eegeesiak and outgoing vice-president Herb Angik Nakimayak also ran for the presidency.

The new president and new vice-president, Nunavik’s Lisa Koperqualuk, tackle their duties following the 13th ICC General Assembly being held in Utqiaġvik, Alaska July 16 to 20.

“I was at one of the very first ICC meetings when it was held in Iqaluit years ago when I was young. I saw a circumpolar Arctic meeting for the first time and that’s when I first found out that other Inuit from other countries were very similar. Even our language – we could pick up similar words and understand each other,” said Ell-Kanayuk.

“We have similar issues. For instance, housing and social issues, and wanting to have knowledge of our rights.”

ICC represents roughly 160,000 Inuit from Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Chukotka (Russia), and celebrates its 40th year this year.

Ell-Kanayuk said her last four years as a cabinet member for the Government of Nunavut will inform her new position.

“I was minister for Health, minister for Economic Development, Family Services – these are very similar to the issues in Inuit Nunangat in Canada, as well as internationally. This is a great opportunity for me to express these issues.”

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) president Aluki Kotierk passed on congratulations to Ell-Kanayuk and Koperqualuk from the NTI board.

“We look forward to a collaborative working relationship ahead to ensure Inuit are well represented internationally at the Arctic Council, the United Nations and other international bodies,” stated Kotierk by e-mail.

ICC holds Consultative Status II at the United Nations.

Kotierk also thanked Nancy Karetak-Lindell and former vice president Herb Nakimayak for their service to Inuit in Canada.

Ell-Kanayuk will serve a four-year term.

“I’m very honoured and humbled,” she said.

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Michele LeTourneau first arrived at NNSL's headquarters in Yellowknife in1998, with a BA honours in Theatre. For four years she documented the arts across the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Following a very short stint as a communications officer with the Government of the Northwest Territories, Michele spent a decade at a community-based environmental monitoring board in the mining industry, where she worked with Inuit, Chipewyan, Tlicho, Yellowknives Dene and Metis elders to help develop traditional knowledge and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit contributions for monitoring and management plans. She rejoined NNSL and moved to Iqaluit in May 2014 to write for Nunavut News. Michele has received a dozen awards for her work with NNSL.