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Profile of Eva Aariak, Premier of Nunavut

Jul 25, 2013

 

 

On 27 Oct 2008, Eva Aariak became the only woman elected to Nunavut's 17-seat Legislative Assembly, and on 14 Nov 2008 she was chosen by her peers in the legislature as Nunavut's second premier.  

 

Family story:

 

Her early years were spent immersed in the natural rhythms of a community and a rich culture sustained by the Arctic environment. Like many of today’s Inuit leaders, she travelled south for higher education to schools in Churchill, Manitoba and in Ontario. (Official Nunavut site)

 

Former occupations:  

 

  • Teacher
  • CBC radio reporter  
  • Director of Training and Development Division with the Government of Nunavut's Department of Human Resources 

(In)formal political beginnings: 

 

  • Nunavut’s first Languages Commissioner.  

Highlights/Claims to fame: 

 

  • Ensuring that Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun are the working languages of the territorial government. 
  • She has helped to translate Inuktitut into syllabics in a Microsoft interface; she has contributed to adding new words into the Inuktitut lexicon, such as ikiaqqivik, a word for Internet that translates into "travelling through layers."
  • As the only woman elected to the legislature in 2008, Ms. Aariak expressed her disappointment suggesting that improved daycare services might be needed to help women participate more actively in the political process. Three women now sit in the legislature.

Intended Legacy:  

 

‘Completing the map of Canada’:  Recognizing that the project of nation-building is unfinished she wants to see Nunavut strengthen its ties with the rest of the country, while reclaiming the self-sufficiency that characterized the Inuit way of life for centuries.  (Source: http://www.premier.gov.nu.ca/apps/authoring/dspPage.aspx?page=biography)

 

 

This Premier's profile is part of EV's summer news series on the occasion of the annual Premiers' meeting at Niagara on the Lake in July 2013. This year, a historic six women premiers were at the table representing nearly half of all Premiers. Read more here.

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Thanks also to the Government of Canada (Status of Women & Canadian Heritage) for their financial support.