The first installment of a weekly-recurring post: Canadians of Interest.
Mr. Amagoalik was born near Inukjuaq in northern Quebec in 1947. Six years later his family and 17 others were relocated to Resolute Bay during a heavy-handed government initiative to assert sovereignty over the High Arctic during the Cold War. Many of his family and friends died from exposure and starvation in the hostile and unfamiliar environment. In 1995 the government finally apologized and reached a settlement for the ‘High Arctic Exiles’, largely due to his tireless efforts.
Mr. Amagoalik began his political career as the Baffin Regional Information Officer with the Northwest Territories territorial government, where he became the first of many to call for the creation of an Inuit homeland, to be called ‘Nunavut’ which means ‘our land’ in Inuktitut.
As president of the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, chair of the Nunavut Constitutional Forum, political advisor to the Tunngavik Federation of Nunavut and then chief commissioner of the Nunavut Implementation Commission, Amagoalik negotiated on behalf of his people with a series of Canadian prime ministers directly.
Mr. Amagoalik has received accolades for his work with Aboriginal rights and the Nunavut claim, including the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada’s 20th Anniversary Award, a National Aboriginal Achievement Award, and an honorary degree from St. Mary’s University in Halifax.