Nunavut’s Monica Ell-Kanayuk to head ICC Canada
Former cabinet minister, broadcaster assumes top role for national Inuit council
Canada’s branch of the Inuit Circumpolar Council has a new leader.
For the next four years, Iqaluit’s Monica Ell-Kanayuk will serve as president of ICC Canada, after she was elected to the position on Sunday, July 15 during the group’s annual general meeting.
“I’m looking forward to working hard for Inuit in Canada and working on international affairs on behalf of Inuit,” Ell-Kanayuk told Nunatsiaq News from Utqiaġvik—previously known as Barrow—in Alaska, where she was attending ICC’s 13th general assembly.
That assembly is held every four years and brings together ICC member states of Canada, the U.S., Russia and Greenland.
While Ell-Kanayuk is Canada’s new ICC president, Alaska is taking Canada’s place as chair of the international Inuit council that advocates for Inuit input in Arctic affairs.
The council works on issues relevant to Inuit like education, wildlife management and economic development.
Lisa Koperqualuk of Nunavik is the new ICC Canada vice-president.
“The new president and vice-president take on their new duties following the conclusion of the 13th ICC General Assembly,” ICC Canada said in a July 15 release.
That means Ell-Kanayuk will step into her role on Friday, replacing outgoing ICC Canada president Nancy Karetak-Lindell.
This presidency is a full-time, paid position.
“I wanted to encourage them to put their trust in my leadership,” she said.
In Nunavut’s previous legislative assembly, Ell-Kanayuk was deputy premier while serving as minister of economic development and transportation.
She was previously director of economic development for Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and worked for many years for the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation.
After the assembly, a declaration will be released stating ICC’s goals for the next four years.
“We will know what Canada’s commitments will be by then,” Ell-Kanayuk said.
That declaration will likely reflect some previous priorities of the commission, she said, “like advocating for food security, promoting use of Indigenous knowledge, supporting Inuit language revitalization, health and wellbeing, stressing Inuit concerns regarding Arctic shipping.”
Ell-Kanayuk did not share any personal projects she wanted to push over her presidency, but said, “I am looking forward to working on behalf of the collective.”
“It’s international work,” she said. “ICC works on behalf of Inuit in Canada. I will work tirelessly to ensure our voices are a collaboration on issues.”
Other candidates who ran for the position as president of ICC Canada were Okalik Eegeesiak and Herb Angik Nakimayak.
The theme for the assembly, which runs until July 20, is “The Arctic We Want.”
“Inuit share that goal,” she said.