‘Father of Nunavut’ receives Order of Canada medal

John Amagoalik was named to Order in 2019; private ceremony held Monday in Iqaluit

Gov. Gen, Mary Simon, left, John Amagoalik, centre, and Simon’s husband Whit Fraser pose for a photo after Simon presented Amagoalik his Order of Canada medal in Iqaluit on Monday. (Photo courtesy of Sgt. Anis Assari/Rideau Hall)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

On the day Nunavut celebrated its 25th anniversary, one of the territory’s founding fathers was presented his Order of Canada medal in a private ceremony.

John Amagoalik was officially invested as an officer of the Order of Canada by Gov. Gen. Mary Simon in Iqaluit on Monday.

Amagoalik, 76, was named to the Order of Canada in December 2019 by then-governor general Julie Payette, meaning his investment ceremony was an event four years in the making.

Simon announced the ceremony had taken place while speaking in Iqaluit at a public event to celebrate Nunavut’s 25 anniversary.

She described Amagoalik as a “Canadian hero.”

Amagoalik was originally from Inukjuak, Nunavik, and is one of the survivors of the High Arctic relocation, when the federal government moved Inuit to the far North to bolster Canada’s claim to Arctic sovereignty.

He was a two-time president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada’s national organization for Inuit, then-called the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, starting in the 1980s.

In the six years between the signing of the Nunavut Agreement in 1993 and the division of the territory in 1999, Amagoalik was chairperson of the Nunavut Implementation Commission.

Amagoalik previously was awarded the Order of Nunavut in 2014.

He also wrote for Nunatsiaq News’ My Little Corner of Canada column for several years.

In an interview, Simon spoke about the special ceremony she was part of with Amagoalik and his family, especially since it happened in the Nunavut capital on the territory’s anniversary date.

“It was very important for me, because John has been a colleague and somebody I worked with for many, many years,” Simon said in an interview.

“There’s a number of really well-known Inuit in Nunavut that were involved in that [land claim negotiation] process, but today was about John Amagoalik.”


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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    Great to see

    But many many people in all regions of Nunavut and the NWT fought hard for the creation of Nunavut.

    Not just one man

    • Posted by Anonymous observer on

      There is a trace of remorse, an inferiority complex, misguided thought, something along those lines is present by the Northern Inuit writer’s comment on John Amagoalik’s recognition of a life dedicated to Inuit and to the creation of the territory Nunavut.

  2. Posted by Thank You JA on

    A true man of ✊ Thank for paving Nunavut on the global map. You made it happen along with all your colleague, too many to name but we all know who they are. So much gratitude to all the incredible and very humble men for their hard work. May you to sit back and relax knowing your mission is accomplished. Thank you guys, thank you from the tip and bottom of whole entire NUNAVUT family!

  3. Posted by hermann kliest on

    Thanks to G> Fiord and Resolute Bay, Canada now without hassle free the world rightful owner of the high arctic. Yet the ppl up there live in extreme hardship….Governments eh?

  4. Posted by Paul on

    There is no father of Nunavut, the closest person would be Tagak, who started the Inuit movement in early 70s, travelling to communities to plant the seeds into the idea of creating Nunavut.
    But not one person did this it took a strong team and all due respect to John A, he is not the father of Nunavut.
    This is disrespectful for the others who did more in helping to creat the dream to reality. A lot of them have passed on but some are still around today.

    • Posted by Par for the course on

      Blame the media for this nonsense, they know better but can’t help but gravitate to simple narratives.

    • Posted by Gratitude to John A on

      Thanks John A. Much appreciated and to your wife who endured when you travelled. Same to others who will receive ceremonial gratitude and acknowledgement too. John has been ill. However, pinnginirliuk attitude by some are unfounded and belittling of others. Woe is him or me mindset. Not Inuit way at all. If the Christian attitude prevails, gratitude and love for others shine. This time is John’s time. Yours is coming too rest assured.

  5. Posted by Eskimos Fan on

    Congratulations Mr. John A.💖🤘
    Don’t forget who “Rode Shotgun” with you. Some Kivalliq “trouble makers” 🤘💖

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