Speaker Profiles

Premier Eva Aariak

Premier Eva Aariak

Premier

Nunavut

Eva Qamaniq Aariak is part of a generation of Inuit who have lived through an era of tumultuous change that transformed life in the Arctic.  

Her early years were spent immersed in the natural rhythms of a community and a rich culture sustained by the Arctic environment.  As increasing numbers of Inuit families relocated to permanent settlements, Premier Aariak’s family was one of the first to settle in Arctic Bay.  Like many of today’s Inuit leaders, she travelled south for higher education to schools in Churchill Manitoba and in Ontario.

Returning to the Arctic, Premier Aariak led a varied career as a teacher, adult educator, equal employment officer, and producer of children’s books in the Baffin region. Her voice was heard throughout the north when she worked as a radio announcer and television reporter for the CBC.  She was an active community member, participating on a number of boards, as a hamlet councillor and on the District Education Authority.

In the years leading up to the creation of Nunavut, Premier Aariak worked with the Office of the Interim Commissioner leading a series of creative initiatives aimed at engaging the public and capturing their ideas and their hopes for the future.

With the birth of the new territory in 1999, the challenge shifted to making the dream of Nunavut a reality. In recognition of Premier Aariak’s commitment to the Inuit Language, the new Legislative Assembly named her the territory’s first Languages Commissioner, responsible for protecting the rights of three official languages.  Her recommendations prompted the government to write a ground-breaking law, the Inuit Language Protection Act.  

Premier Aariak took a break from public life to work as a language consultant and to assist with the creation of Inuktitut versions of Microsoft products. She later started her own business aimed at expanding the market for Inuit-made products while chairing the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce.

In 2008, Premier Aariak ran for office and won the seat for Iqaluit East.  Shortly thereafter she was chosen by the Members of the Legislative Assembly to lead the government as Premier.

Premier Eva Aariak brings her experience as a community leader, businesswoman and advocate for Inuit language and culture to her role as Nunavut’s second leader since the creation of the territory in 1999.

The Premier listened to communities across Nunavut in creating Tamapta, the Government of Nunavut’s mandate, which refocuses its efforts towards the needs of Nunavummiut now that the initial work of setting up the new territory is complete.

Under her leadership, work has begun on implementing Nunavut’s first laws, including the Education Act, the Inuit Language Protection Act and the Official Languages Act. Her government has released a strategy aimed at reducing rates of suicide that have devastated Inuit communities in recent years. Guided by Tamapta, communities, stakeholders and government are writing a plan together to reduce poverty throughout the territory. Her government is also striving to develop a diversified economy and build the infrastructure needed for Canada’s fastest growing population.

Premier Aariak has put a strong emphasis on ‘completing the map of Canada.’ Recognizing that the project of nation-building is unfinished she wants to see Nunavut strengthen its ties with the rest of the country, while reclaiming the self-sufficiency that characterized the Inuit way of life for centuries.

Devolution, bringing decision-making over Nunavut’s land and waters closer to home and thereby increasing Nunavut’s self-reliance, is a goal to which the Premier is full committed.

Premier Aariak raised four children, Karliin, Jordan, Shawn and Jari, in Iqaluit.  She is now the proud grandmother of three, Tasiana, Joyce and James Aliguq.

Our Sponsors