Eva Aariak, pictured here at a 2017 Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. meeting, has been named as the new commissioner of Nunavut. (File photo)

Nunavut welcomes Aariak’s return to public life as commissioner

“She knows exactly what’s going on in government”

By Sarah Rogers

Updated at 5 p.m.

Nunavummiut are welcoming the news that former premier Eva Aariak will return to public life — this time as commissioner of the territory.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Aariak’s appointment to the role Tuesday, Jan. 12.

“I’m very excited Ms. Aariak is taking on this new role, and I know she will bring integrity and strength to the role,” said Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq in a statement. “I look forward to working with her, and know her wealth of experience will serve Nunavut well.”

While Nunavut’s premier doesn’t make a formal recommendation for who should serve as commissioner, Nunavut’s MLAs had the chance to put forward names and applications for the commissioner’s role, which were then sent to the prime minister’s office for consideration.

Aariak fills a position that has been vacant in Nunavut since June 2020, when former Nunavut commissioner Nellie Kusugak’s term expired.

Originally from Arctic Bay, Aariak started her professional career in education, teaching in communities across the territory. She later worked as a journalist for CBC before being appointed as the first languages commissioner of Nunavut.

After relocating to Iqaluit, Aariak helped open and operate the retail store Malikkaat.

In 2008, Aariak was elected as MLA for Iqaluit East, at which point the assembly chose her as premier — the first woman to hold that role in the territory. She served as Nunavut’s premier until 2013.

Although it’s unusual to have a former premier sit as commissioner, many welcome the extensive experience in politics Aariak brings to her new position.

“I think it’s a big plus, for her and for Nunavummiut,” said Ann Meekitjuk Hanson, a former commissioner of Nunavut who served in that role from 2005-2010, while Aariak was premier.

“She knows exactly what’s going on in government.”

Hanson said Aariak’s knowledge of the territory goes beyond her time in politics; she said Aariak understands Nunavut’s communities and their needs, and the symbolic part of the role requires commissioners to forge that connection.

“I really enjoyed working with her,” Hanson said. “I’m delighted that we now have a commissioner and I’m delighted that it’s Eva.”

The commissioner of Nunavut is appointed to a five-year mandate.

Territorial commissioners fulfill many of the same duties as provincial lieutenant governors: opening the legislative assembly, swearing in its members and the executive council as well as giving assent, or final approval, to legislation.

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(13) Comments:

  1. Posted by Donald Chenier on

    Congratulations Eva! 👍!!!

    From former residents, business associates and friends in Iqaluit!!

    Don Chenier and Rejane Vaillancourt

  2. Posted by Figurehead on

    I’m sure she is a nice lady but Paying a federal employee large six figure salaries to rubber stamp laws is a waste of public dollars and a waste of time. The commissioner was historically the overlord of the territory and continued existence of the office perpetuates colonialism. It’s time to move on.

    • Posted by Pork Pie on

      I agree this is a figurehead position, as you say. It is truly a relic of colonialism, as well. But how does that make it “perpetuate colonialism”?

  3. Posted by Frank Tester on

    Eva. Congratulations. Glad to see you serving as Commissioner.

  4. Posted by Annie on

    Why did GN give ceremonial job to a former premier? There are many worthy & respectable Inuit in NU that should have been given this ceremonial position. I mean no disrespect but others need to be recognized also.

    • Posted by Civics 101 on

      If you read the story, or if you’ve studied civics you’ll see that she was appointed by the Prime Minister, not the GN.

  5. Posted by No GN Role on

    The territorial government doesn’t have an official role in this appointment.

  6. Posted by Paul Fraser on

    I agree with Premier Savikataaq’s comment and Eva will “bring integrity and strength to the role,” I wish Eva well and pray that all Nunavummiut will stand behind and support her appointment.

  7. Posted by Sugami on

    It’s great choice yes but I have to say how many times is Eva and her daughter going to be recycled. Iqaluit is not Nunavut. It seems that way in so many ways.

  8. Posted by Check for ques on

    After seeing her comments on behalf of QIA which rather went against people’s wishes and expectations, quickly lost faith in her, it was rather obvious she was acting as a puppet, I’m hoping she is not with qia now. Prime minister does not obviously know her enough to put her into this position, I agree the title is outdated.

  9. Posted by Diane Sirois on

    Congratulations Eva on your appointment I was looking forward to see someone with your expertise for this role ….enjoy yourself

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