Aurèle St-Amant, a longtime employee of the Fédération des coopératives du Nouveau-Québec, stands with his family in front of a co-op store in Nunavik during the early years of the co-operative movement. St. Amant died earlier this month from the new coronavirus. (Photo courtesy of the FCNQ)

Aurèle St-Amant, a pioneer of Nunavik’s co-op movement, dies at 83 from COVID-19

“His days are now over but his influence continues to resonate”

By Nunatsiaq News

Many in Nunavik are mourning the loss of Aurèle St-Amant, who died on April 13 at the age of 83.

St-Amant, a longtime accountant and financial advisor with the Fédération des coopératives du Nouveau-Québec, was the last surviving member of the small group chosen by the co-operative’s founders in Nunavik to build their regional federation in the 1960s.

St-Amant died of COVID-19.

“Aurèle St-Amant will be remembered for his professional skills, his many years of service and his unusual personality; but mostly, Aurèle will be remembered for the deep affection he had for the people he served,” said a release from the FCNQ, known as Ilagiisaq in Inuktitut.

St-Amant managed to remain pragmatic in difficult times, such as when a co-op burned to the ground or when an avalanche devastated Kangiqsualujjuaq in 1999, the FCNQ said.

But the FCNQ said St-Amant would mostly be remembered as “a warm and modest man who had a subtle but playful sense of humour.”

St-Amant also mentored a number of employees who still work for the FCNQ.

“His days are now over but his influence continues to resonate. We will miss this gentle giant and thank his surviving family for so generously sharing him with all of us,” the FCNQ said.

His career with the FCNQ started in 1965.

After meeting Father André Steinmann, Peter Murdoch and the local carvers of Puvirnituq, who were forming the co-operative in that community, St-Amant became the acting auditor for the co-ops and trained administrators in how to manage the stores.

In Nunavik, Aurèle St-Amant, who was known for his warm personality and devotion to the co-op movement, was often greeted with “Attatatsiagnai” (Hi, granddad) by local co-op members. (Photo courtesy of the FCNQ)

Two years later, five co-operatives joined together to form a federation that today is the largest non-government employer in Nunavik, with more than 400 full-time and 140 seasonal employees in Nunavik and 160 full-time employees in Montreal.

Although his family lived in Lévis, St-Amant spent months in the North, where he prepared financial statements, attended meetings, counted inventories and did whatever the co-ops needed.

“Despite this, Aurèle never made it seem like a personal hardship; he embraced the people and their ways which corresponded so naturally with the co-operative model he believed in,” the FCNQ said.

During his regular tours, St-Amant was often greeted with an affectionate “Attatatsiagnai” (Hi, granddad) by local co-op members who recognized his full immersion into Inuit society and appreciated his commitment to Nunavimmiut and their co-operative movement, the FCNQ said.

“Aurèle played a big role in training Inuit in learning bookkeeping. [He] became part of the Inuit family here,” said Aliva Tulugak, a former FCNQ president.

St-Amant also brought his family to Nunavik during the summer.

During the early 1980s, St-Amant worked with his son Eric to create a computerized version of his own accounting system for the co-ops, a system that remained in place until 2002.

Due to the pandemic, no funeral date has been fixed, but it will be posted later here.

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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by Jean Angelo Dupuis on

    Aurele was a super nice and the most patient man I have ever met. We first met in the early 70’s when the Federation had contracts to do the audits of many Inuit Community Councils of the day when DIAND was still in Nunavik
    Rest In Peace my Friend !

    • Posted by William Thompson on

      My sincere condolences to the family! I remember M. St-Amant very well. It was always a pleasure talking with him on many occasions about his travels to the communities! R.I.P.

  2. Posted by Bobby on

    R.I.P. Auréle, Nakurmiik for your dedication for the north and the people in it. A loss many feel today.

  3. Posted by Ann on

    Oh my! Unexpected and deepest sympathies and condolences to his wonderful family. Such a familiar face and I would see him all over the place when I travelled. Thank you for your enormous help and your warm presence. Prayers for the whole family for peace. ❤️😢

  4. Posted by Suzanne Rouleau on

    This remembers me my childhood in Lévis, when I first met a little inuit girl of my age visiting with her parents and father André Steinman and miss Thérèse Levallée The little girl and I, we played together in the snow each one speaking in our own language. My dad Alfred Rouleau was working for Desjardins.

  5. Posted by Jobie Weetaluktuk on

    Aurèle used to stay up north for months. A peaceful man. When Pauloosie Kasudluak was president he used to introduce Aurèle as Uriuq a sonic equivalent in Inuktitut. Uriuq is also a proper Inuktitut name. Ataatatsiaq like in many cultures is grand father. The sentiment of it was very appreciated by his Inuit peers, who loved to be called Ataatatsiaq.

  6. Posted by We will remember what you did for us on

    This guy was a saviour to the coop. I remember him for how he taught who I thought was the unteachable. Lol now they’re running the shows in each and every village. He was so patient and could relate with anyone while teaching them. He was a good man and has blessed us all. Rest in paradise, good friend. Say hi to grandpa for me.

  7. Posted by Eliasie on

    Aurele taught me so much. He was a gentle soul to work with and he wanted to make sure you knew everything before he moved on. Condolences to his family, and l will miss his friendship.

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