His Excellency and Inuit Tea


John Ralston Saul, the husband of Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson and who is officially called “His Excellency,” apparently loves Avataq’s line of herbal teas.

Saul recently telephoned the new president of Avataq, Charlie Arngak, to invite him to Government House, the official residence of the Governor-General in Ottawa, so they could discuss Avataq’s tea business.

Avataq, Nunavik’s cultural institute, has been producing herbal teas as a pilot project for two years.

The teas are hand-gathered in Nunavik and then blended by professional tea-baggers in Montreal into five varieties — Labrador, Crowberry, Ground Juniper, Arctic Blend and Cloudberry.

Called “Northern Delights,” the teas are packaged in a trilingual box that features a period photo of Inuit women gathering herbs.

Arngak and Avataq’s executive director, Rhoda Kokkiapik, called on Ralston Saul when they were recently in Ottawa.

“He likes the tea and the fact it’s a Canadian product,” Kokkiapik said. “He really likes the packaging, too- it’s lightweight and has a long shelf-life.”

The vice-regal couple apparently likes to give the Inuit tea to official visitors, and they serve it at events they host.

During a tour of the residence, Arngak and Kokkiapik learned the official chefs also use the herbal tea infusions in other ways.

“It’s more than tea to them,” Kokkiapik said.

Kokkiapik said Avataq is fine-tuning its business plan, and hopes to move ahead with mass-production of the teas.

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