Nunavut’s departing commissioner says farewell


Let me take this opportunity to congratulate Ann Hanson on her appointment as Commissioner of Nunavut. Her experiences as public speaker; in journalism; with CBC; and having served as Deputy Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, will allow her to be an excellent head of state for Nunavut. When I heard of her appointment, I was extremely happy.

When I was named the Commissioner of Nunavut in 2000, I said I would do two things: promote Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit in a very big way with the help of Nunavummiut; and develop the Commissioner’s office, ensuring that the Inuit way is a significant part of it. It seemed that both Inuit and non-Inuit felt extremely at ease to utilize the Office of the Commissioner.

I would also like to take this opportunity to remember my parents’ words as I thank the people of Nunavut, of Canada and the international community. My mother, someone with a huge heart for others, always encouraged me to help others. In carrying out my duties as Commissioner, I tried to help others feel good and be proud of themselves, as Canadians and as Inuit. As Commissioner, from April 1, 2000 to March 31, 2005, I carried my mother’s heart with me, in addition to mine, in performing my duties.

A notable event is when, in 2000, the Mayor of Baker Lake invited me to recognize people for Commissioner’s Awards. From then on, Commissioner’s Awards became a way to recognize individuals in Nunavut. To March 31, 2005, I have recognized close to 400 individuals for contributions to communities, and to their fellow Nunavummiut, for Bravery, Volunteer, Youth and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Traditional Skills).

I want to acknowledge the co-operation and support that I received in Nunavut. I want to thank all the members of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly, both former and present: the mayors and community councilors; the associations and organizations and finally the residents of Nunavut, without whom my term as Commissioner would not have been as successful. My visits to the smaller and larger communities, for awards, cultural events, levies, meetings, and at times losses had a mixture of sadness, recognition, pride, rejoicing and most of all, fun. I participated at traditional drum-dances, throat-singing and the more modern drum dances in Kangiqtugaapik-Clyde River.

In thanking the people of southern Canada, I would particularly like to mention two people, whose support and promotion of Nunavut was greatly acknowledged and recognized, their Excellencies Adrienne Clarkson and her husband, John Ralston Saul. I am thankful for the cooperation between Nunavut and Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia for their work in helping to promote Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit. Also, I mention the joining of the Nova Scotia/Nunavut Legion Command and my involvement in laying a “Nunavut Stone” in Sackville, or speaking at the annual general meeting in Bridgewater, where we showed that we can establish partnerships and most of all friendships!

I owe a lot of my accomplishments in this position to Teresa Irene Katak Irniq, my daughter, who died in April 2000, much too young. In accepting her passing, I was helped to shape my resolve to provide leadership to youth, for them to know more about their history and language and use that for their future strength, pride and self-identity.

I recognize the elders and youth in Nunavut, who were always eager to learn and teach about their history and share their wisdom and knowledge. I have come to realize that Inuit are the kind of people who can take one step back, and two steps forward. I hope, as Inuit, you will always remember that we are talented, creative, dynamic, national and international, and victorious! I also recognize all the residents of Nunavut who are not Inuit; who love and share our land; who work the jobs; who bring different languages and ways and give us new options to choose from. You, all the residents of Nunavut, have been very wonderful people to represent.

Let us always work in the name of Inuuqatigiittiarniq – in the name of tapiiriit – working as a team. On behalf of my wife Marie, who worked with me as equal partner, let me say, qujannamiik, quana, ma’na, nakurmiik, merci beaucoup, thank you very much!

Peter Irniq

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