A funeral service and reception for Rankin Inlet’s former senior administrative officer and hamlet councillor Justin Allen Merritt was held in the community on Dec. 30. A celebration of life will be planned for a later date in Cape Breton, his obituary notes. (Photo courtesy of Kathleen Ivaluarjuk Merritt)

Rankin Inlet mourns community leader Justin Merritt

Merritt moved to the hamlet In 1987 as a ‘bay boy’ with Hudson’s Bay Company, according to obituary

By Meral Jamal

People in Rankin Inlet are remembering hamlet councillor and former senior administrative officer Justin Allen Merritt, who died Dec. 27 of cancer at the age of 64.

Born in Nova Scotia, Merritt moved to Rankin Inlet in 1987 as a “bay boy” with the Hudson’s Bay Company, according to his obituary.

In the more than 30 years he lived in the community, Merritt wore many hats including councillor, senior administrative officer, finance comptroller and committee member.

Darren Flynn, Rankin Inlet’s current senior administrative officer, said he had known Merritt since the 1980s and remembers him as “a pretty straightforward, no-nonsense type of individual who was a lot of fun, too.”

“He loved playing darts and he liked sports and he was always devoted to advancing sports here in the community,” Flynn told Nunatsiaq News.

“[Merritt] coached hockey, he refereed hockey, he also coached softball and most recently, while sitting on council, he was chairperson of the recreation committee.”

One of the most recent initiatives Merritt took on was having the hamlet invest approximately $100,000 to build a sliding hill at the back of the arena in the community last summer.

Flynn said before that, children would sometimes slide in unsafe places, such as on the side of the road.

“[Merritt] was always looking out for the interests of youth,” he said.

Rankin’s recreation co-ordinator, David Clark, grew up around Merritt. He remembers him as “almost like an uncle.”

Clark said that in many ways his own life reflects Merritt’s, within the community: Merritt coached Clark in hockey so many years ago. Now Clark coaches hockey within Rankin.

As Clark grew up, he took Merritt’s example and joined the hamlet’s recreation department too.

“[Merritt] was a tremendous boss. He really supported the staff he worked with. He was always very motivating to me and also very caring at the same time,” Clark said of their time working together.

“He was a very good leader and he also became a mentor and I built a friendship with him. I have nothing but gratitude and love for him and his family.”

A funeral service and reception for Merritt was held in the community Dec. 30. A celebration of life will be planned for a later date in Cape Breton, N.S., the obituary notes.

Flynn said he hopes the hamlet council is able to “in the not-too-distant future, find a way to memorialize [Merritt’s] service to the community.”

In his own life, he said, he will “always remember [Merritt] as being a straight shooter and a no-nonsense person who really just wanted to improve what he could for the community.”


Share This Story

(2) Comments:

  1. Posted by Terry Coulombe on

    So sad to hear of Justin’s passing.

    My sympathies to Dorothy and Family.

  2. Posted by Genevieve (Burke) Anson on

    So sorry To the Merritt family for the loss of Justin(Dusty). I grew up with the family when I lived in Cape Breton.
    A great close knit family. Lots of love and good times. Prayers are sent to all of you.

Comments are closed.