Former Nunavut politician Tagak Curley said if he were invited, he would have been at the Jan. 18 signing of the devolution agreement in Iqaluit. (Photo courtesy of Tagak Curley)

One of Nunavut’s founding fathers left out of devolution celebration in ‘oversight’

Premier P.J. Akeeagok offered apology to Tagak Curley after failing to invite him to Jan. 18 signing

By Livete Ataguyuk

One of the leaders who was involved in the creation of Nunavut says he would have loved to have witnessed history earlier this month with the signing of the devolution agreement, if only he’d been invited.

Tagak Curley is a former MLA and one of the founding members of the organization that would become Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the national voice for Inuit in Canada. He played a prominent role in the land-claims negotiations that provided the basis for Nunavut to become its own territory in 1999.

“I devoted my life pretty much to the land-claim cause,” Curley said this week in an interview.

Nunavut reached a new milestone on Jan. 18 when Premier P.J. Akeeagok, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NTI president Aluki Kotierk signed a devolution agreement in Iqaluit that gives the territorial government control over a vast majority of its Crown lands and resources.

Seeing as it was described as the biggest land-transfer in Canadian history, it came with pomp and celebration. There was throat singing, drum dancing, speeches, hand-shakes and hugs.

The agreement comes into effect April 1, 2027.

Curley told Nunatsiaq News he would have travelled from Rankin Inlet, where he lives, to witness the signing, but he did not receive an invitation.

“[Akeeagok] never invited me publicly or directly through correspondence or a telephone call, email, or any other means,” said Curley.

“All I know is if he invited me, I would have come.”

Curley’s exclusion from the event was an oversight, said Sima Sahar Zerehi, Akeeagok’s chief of strategic operations.

“The premier instructed me to ensure that Mr. Curley was invited,” she said in an email, explaining that the federal and territorial governments each had their own lists of invitees.

When the lists were merged, Zerehi said she didn’t double-check the final list, assuming Curley’s name was on NTI’s list. But it was not.

“I deeply regret this oversight,” she said.

“Upon discovering the error, Premier Akeeagok called Mr. Curley personally, explained the situation, and offered an apology.”

Curley confirmed he did receive that call.

“The apology that was offered included only the premier’s stated invitation request to his staff,” Curley said.

“That was it.”

Looking forward, Curley said he is hopeful the transition period goes smoothly and Inuit get trained for more managerial jobs when the GN officially takes over responsibility for Nunavut’s land and resources.

“We are going to need the young people and get them trained and [for them] to go through the educational process and have many opportunities,” Curley said.

“That’s my dream. That should happen.”

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(38) Comments:

  1. Posted by Hunter on

    Tagak was the first President of ITK in 1971, he met with Pierre Trudeau about the creation of Nunavut and the establishment of a public government. A few important guys like him are the founding fathers of Nunavut who had the vision and energy, knowledge and courage to go toe with Pierre Trudeau.

    He has been Member of the Legislative Assembly of both the NWT and Nunavut.

    How someone dropped the ball in the Premier’s office by not inviting Tagak.

    What a shame…embarrassment for the Premier to over look him

  2. Posted by eskimo joe on

    Will it appears PM and NTI Boss did not want to share the spot light, showmen’s attitude….Was James even there? I did not see him on the news. I am not a big fan of Curleys but this man most of all deserves a rightful honor and recognition who did honorable work along with John A for the whole of Nunavut. I too am very disappointed he was not invited. The two big wings, all the work has been done for you as the honorees’, shameless, I was not in Iqaluit for this special occasion, was there even a list of the past negotiators? Noticeably Paul Quassa…I did not see him maybe the cameraman was too busy with two amigos.

    • Posted by hermann kliest on

      If you please; Three Amigos, might as will include Trudeau as the 3rd stooge.

    • Posted by frank on

      Wonder if they (2 amigos) even credited mr. Curly and mr. Amagoalik?? i guess not, since they only realized after the fact, then finally apologized when its too late. shame on them! i totally agree with eskimo joe.

    • Posted by Hunter on

      Honestly, It is sad really. NTI, ITK or even the Government of Nunavut does not have any of this historical information readily available on line. I remember watching the original hearings in high school of ITC meeting/hearings and learning about this stuff before we had access to internet and when we still had to leave home to finish high school.

      Looks like the High Schools in Nunavut, and Nunavut failing the students by not teaching Nunavut’s history properly to our children because our Premier and a few of the other MLA’s are not even 40 year.

      Where any of Nunavut forefathers even mentioned in the address? It took 20 years of negotiations for the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement, it took over 20 years of negotiations for Nunavut Territory to be granted these powers

      Josie Kusugak, Paul Kaludjak, John Amaroalik, Tagak Curley, Paul Okalik, and many others who lead ITK, NTI, and the Government of Nunavut deserved to be acknowledged and recognized. Where they even mentioned?

    • Posted by Lazarus on

      If your talking about James Arvaaluk, he died some years ago.

      • Posted by KITIA? on

        James Eetoolook maybe?

        • Posted by eskimo joe on

          Yes James E. of course

  3. Posted by TGC on

    As things go we are fortunate/blessed, we should be thankful to not be struggling for survival in a wartorn land. There are forces in the world that exist only to create chaos for in that chaos is opportunity to undermine our freedom and consolodate their power. It is a most dangerous time in which we live.

    John Amagoaluk a mention deserves much recognition as too does his comrade Tagak.

  4. Posted by all to cover up the premier on

    when pj was speaking it was all him him and him. He did not want Curley there as that would have taken away the spotlight from pj. Zerehi is taking the blame on behalf of premier “oversight” A historical event like that, Curley should have not been forgotten. I’m sorry premier you will have to say the truth on this one. please come clean and accept the responsibility.

  5. Posted by Flunkies on

    What on earth is a “chief of strategic operations” and what do they do besides strategically screwing up invitee lists?

  6. Posted by Maq-Pat on

    I agree with Mr. Curley, blaming staff is not much of an apology. Even if it is entirely the staff persons fault (which is hard to tell), the leader is the leader and should take responsibility.

    And YES, please start putting more focus on training more young Inuit to enter and lead our Government.

    • Posted by Embarassing on

      This is a total embarrassment. Many were not mentioned by the Premier including Tagak, Jose Kusugak, John O, and others. The staff member takes the fall, she has worked for the media, QIA, and the GN long enough to know the history and the players.
      If I were the premier someone would be looking for a job. This is totally unacceptable and if the staff member is responsible she should resign based on her own incompetence. The truth will come out one day.
      Way to much cover up with this government.

      • Posted by Voter on

        I’d nominate and vote for you, if only we new your name, oh Embarrassing one.

  7. Posted by Devo ready? on

    The GN can’t even manage to put a simple guest list together but they’re going to take on major new responsibilities with devolution?

  8. Posted by Tired on

    But we’re totally ready to look after ourselves.

  9. Posted by Name Withheld on

    Does anyone know which GOC department staff will be transferring to the GN?

    • Posted by TBD on

      That process will unfold over the next 3 years. Any employee who is given the option to remain within the federal public service rather than transfer to the GN should absolutely exercise that option. No exceptions. And for obvious reasons.

  10. Posted by Look in the mirror on

    I feel bad for Tagak because this was an enormous error on behalf of the Premier and his staff. What makes it worse is that Tagak is just one of many who were forgotten in the mad dash for this latest photo op they tripped over their egos. John Amagoalik and others should also have been there. C’mon man!

    The apology is meaningless. I believe Premier has a major staff problem but unfortunately too many politicians fail to acknowledge or deal with those issues because they get baffled with bs.

    Good luck with the mandate.

    Two years can’t come soon enough.

  11. Posted by Moceecee on

    What a shame. What an absolute crap show.

  12. Posted by Sure on

    Have NONE of the above commenters been to an event in Nunavut? This is how it goes. This was probably tossed together in the couple days (to a week for a few people to know) before the event. Should he have been there… yes. But really Tagak why so much crying about it. we all know you were important at the start of making Nunavut happen. you are one of the Fathers of Nunavut, maybe act like a father and be proud of your children that continued your work.
    Sorry a mistake happened. I am sure any time you ever talk about the creation of Nunavut you always ensure you let others know all the others that were part of it… EVERY TIME.

    • Posted by 😂 on

      Is this P.J 😂 sure sounds like him 😂

      • Posted by Sure on

        Nope I am not PJ. Also for leaving out Tagak you really think PJ would have thought about this long enough to come up with the plan to exclude someone on purpose?

        • Posted by 😂 on

          Y’all so defensive you are P.J or his lil B$$$$ 🤣

  13. Posted by Northern Guy on

    This how the GN operates. Somebody way higher up on the food chain (Premier?? Clerk?? DM of EIA???) made a decision as to whom to invite to this event and then rightly or wrongly an excluded party complained about being off the list. Rather than admitting to their mistakes the GN muckedy mucks decide that they are going to throw an underling under the bus and take the fall. Devolving federal employees take note … this is the how the GN operates.

    • Posted by Maq-Pat on

      I’d be interested in seeing another example of throwing a staff person under the bus, if you can provide one. I do not believe it is at all common. Minister Joanasie has a very clear 2018 example of owning mistakes from his office.

      Also, the staff person in question here is a very senior position. Likely she is the second most senior political position in the whole administration.

      • Posted by Northern Guy on

        You’re kidding right Maq-Pat? If covering your arse were an Olympic sport, everyone at the GN (above the level of Director) would be gold medalists. No one has EVER taken direct responsibility for their failings and faux pas. I could provide numerous concrete examples however, since many have never been exposer to direct public scrutiny, speaking about them may “out” me and put my present employment situation at risk (insert wink emoji here).

  14. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    It was not only Tagak and Jon A.

    Numerous people all over fought for Nunavut. Each of the would be regions had Staff as well as people in NWT.

    Stop calling people father of Nunavut. There was many involved.

  15. Posted by eskimo joe on

    Or resign, it’s a shameful act… and hopefully we’ll remember NTI Boss in the next election for that top job; there is no room me, me, me at this level. heads has been called for lesser mistakes in politics, let remember this on their election day….no room for arrogant at all.

  16. Posted by Tundramoon on

    I am embarrassed for the elderly man aka father of Nunavut. After a big day for many he spoils it for all. This behaviour is called projection which refers to attributing ones shortcoming, mistakes and misfortunes to others in order to project one’s ego. Put your ego aside or your big boy pants on, your an elder now. Elders did not educate on hating other inuit unless they did in the kivalliq? Last time I checked the I pray that you find away yo heal your inner sins that stear you in this path to evil and hatred. God bless you.

  17. Posted by Don’t even matter on

    It doesn’t matter wether he was there or not, it happened and we’re going to move on with our lives, it doesn’t matter

  18. Posted by For real on

    This guy never supported devolution and complained about the GN efforts back in Eva Aariaks government as being a waste of time and money.

  19. Posted by Edmonton Elk on

    At 32 or 33 responses, why not add 1 more! Best wishes from Nunavik!

  20. Posted by Eskimo Fan on

    Talk ’bout disrespect!!

  21. Posted by Eskimos fan on

    Tsgaq Curley Zebedee Ninguaq and Peter Ittinuaq. And John A
    Mahsi Cho from an Eskimo,💖

  22. Posted by Toonik’s Grandfather on

    Oversight ? LOT of bull. NU statemen and women that create Nunavut were left out in the COLD.

  23. Posted by monty sling on

    Just another Nunavut Trudeau now, wow!!! egos.

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