GG names two Inuit to Order of Canada
Sheila Watt-Cloutier and Kooneeloosee Nutarak honoured
Governor General Michaëlle Jean announced 77 appointments to the Order of Canada last month — including two Inuit: Sheila Watt-Cloutier and Kooneeloosee (Cornelius) Nutarak.
Nutarak of Pond Inlet, who is now in his 80s, was appointed for his lifetime of contributions to maintaining Inuit heritage and, according to Jean’s office at Rideau Hall, for being “a guardian of Inuit customs.”
Nutarak has contributed to many studies on Nunavut wildlife, and he’s shared his traditional knowledge with students, in meetings and on the local radio.
Nutarak helped many Qallunaat who came to Pond Inlet as missionaries, scientists and police, and worked closely with the late priest and archeologist, Fr. Guy Mary-Rousselière.
Watt-Cloutier’s nomination to the order was in the social service category. Until last month, Watt-Cloutier, who now lives in Iqaluit, was chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (now the Inuit Circumpolar Council).
Rideau Hall says Watt-Cloutier is a “passionate and untiring leader,” who has lobbied, with success, to raise awareness internationally about the impact of climate change and contaminants on the Arctic region and its residents.
“Both are excellent announcements,” said Mary Simon, the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
Simon cited Nutarak’s dedication to promoting and preserving Inuit culture and language, his sharing of his extensive knowledge with Inuit via the radio, and his importance as an elder role model for Pond Inlet.
“As an officer of the Order of Canada, and on behalf of the Inuit of Canada, it is an honour to congratulate both Sheila and Kooneeloosee on their appointments to the Order of Canada,” Simon said.