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Kuptana resigns from ICC



Rosemarie Kuptana resigned suddenly as president of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference this week, just 18 months into her three-year term.

The resignation came as a complete surprise to ICC’s executive council, which was meeting in Nuuk, Greenland, and thrust longtime ICC vice-president Aqqaluk Lynge to the forefront of the organization.

Citing personal and health reasons, Kuptana delivered her resignation in person to the executive council on Monday, causing what one delegate described as a brief “crisis situation.”

Lynge was elected to the ICC presidency on Tuesday with the unanimous approval of the executive council after two days of intense closed-door deliberations.

Lynge, 50, is a trained social worker, author and former cabinet minister in Greenland’s home-rule government. A rival of Kuptana’s for the leadership of the ICC in 1995, Lynge was ICC vice-president for Greenland between 1980 and 1991, and from 1995 until this week.

Iqaluit Mayor Joe Kunuk and ICC vice-president Sheila Watt-Cloutier were considered likely candidates for the job, but because of prior commitments, were unable to accept, Lynge said.

“That’s why I had to take the responsibility.”

Lynge took the opportunity to thank Kuptana “for her great work protecting Inuit rights all over the world,” and extended a hand of friendship to the head of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated.

Lynge said he looked forward to establishing “close connections” with Jose Kusugak on international issues such as the seal-skin industry and the rights of indigenous peoples worldwide.

Although the shift in leadership left the Greenland delegation temporarily without a vice-president, the executive council is expected to fill the post early next the week. That will allow the ICC to continue its work on these important issues, Lynge said.

“We have serious problems, especially for Canada and Greenland, with the collapse of the sealing industry,” Lynge said. “We look forward to working with everybody, especially Inuit organizations in Canada in fighting for the re-opening for the seal-skin market.”

The new president predicted the next 18 months would be very busy.

A published author and poet, Lynge is fluent in Greenlandic, Danish and English and brings to the post many years’ experience in international trade.

Before returning to the ICC in 1995, Lynge was president and CEO of the Greenland Trading Company, a government-owned company with 3,000 employees.

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