Former Akulivik mayor Eli Aullaluk dies at 74
Aullaluk remembered as honest and outspoken community leader
Former Akulivik mayor Eli Aullaluk is being remembered as an unapologetically honest and loving man.
The 74-year-old died Aug. 2 in a drowning.
“We lost a great man,” says Muncy Novalinga, a long-time coworker and friend of Aullaluk. “Unfortunately, his calling is to go home now, to be with his family.”
Novalinga and Aullaluk were colleagues during both of their terms as mayors of Akulivik. When Aullaluk was at the helm, Novalinga was a councillor, and vice-versa.
When they worked together, they shared a common goal: community interest, says Novalinga. They focused on community development through activities for the youth and the elders.
“He was a great colleague,” Novalinga said. “Eli contributed a lot to the region.”
Together, they also became part of the Nunavik Marine Regional Planning Commission’s board of directors, representing their home community, Akulivik.
Aullaluk had a reputation for speaking his mind, whether it was in politics or in his personal life, Novalinga said.
“Instead of being afraid to say the wrong thing, Eli would speak it, regardless if it was right or wrong,” he said. “Eli would ‘say nothing is right, nothing is wrong, but it has to be said.'”
Aullaluk retired from political life in 2010.
“He told me once that he was tired of this life,” says Novalinga. “He told me, ‘I think I gave all I have to the region and my community. It is time for me to spend some time with my family.’”
But he continued community service through the Natural Helpers program, which is run through the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services.
Natural Helpers are people sent to communities to help families who are grieving from a tragic death, said Novalinga, a co-ordinator for the program.
“My job is to send people who will give their love and compassion,” he said. “I asked Eli if he would be willing to do it, and he said yes.”
Hiring Aullaluk as a natural helper is a memory Novalinga says he holds fondly as an example of the amount of love and compassion Aullaluk held for others, especially those who lost their loved ones.
And now Novalinga himself is the natural helper to Nellie Aullaluk, Eli Aullaluk’s wife.
“Eli was outgoing, outspoken and a great example of someone who did not have a hard time to speak his mind,” said Novalinga.
“He was the oldest and wisest in his family…. The whole family looked up to him for advice, like a father.”