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Iglulik's Levy Uttak wins national tourism award

Levy Uttak of Iglulik captured the Most Inspiring Cultural Ambassador award from the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada on Nov. 14.

The distinction goes to someone who “inspires those around them in a way they represent their culture to visitors. The recipient leads by example and provides guidance and mentorship to those who are finding their path to represent their culture.

Levy Uttak, foreground, and his wife Yolanda are pictured at the Travel Nunavut office in Iqaluit in late November. Levy earned the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada's Most Inspiring Cultural Ambassador award on Nov. 14 for his business Igloo Tourism and Outfitting.
photo courtesy of Levy Uttak

Uttak, owner of Igloo Tourism and Outfitting, definitely meets those criteria, according to Sébastien Desnoyers-Picard, director of marketing for the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada.

Levy has always been very generous about his time and always providing help to anyone around him,” said Desnoyers-Picard. “As a proud Inuk, he’s sharing his culture in the most honest and historically accurate way. He’s a great storyteller and a very reliable person... Nunavut can be proud to have such a strong ambassador.”

Uttak and his wife Yolanda, started their business in January 2018.

“I've been out hunting pretty much since I was four with my father... that's one of the reasons I became an outfitter,” Uttak said.

He takes visitors out on the land to see wildlife and for hunting and fishing expeditions. He already has people lining up to tour iglu hotels next year.

Igloo Tourism and Outfitting employs a couple of local dog mushers, up to five snowmobile guides, two cooks, elder advisers and a few youth, including

He's had clients and inquiries from all over the world, including China and Italy.

“They want to see the traditional way of our area,” he said. “It's going really well and it makes me really happy that we're able to employ hunters in Iglulik.”

Levy Uttak's son Gavin, second from left, Levy's nephew Gouchard, centre, and Levy's older son Lawrence help out on guiding trips, such as this one during the fall for a couple of Italian clients who got to see walruses beaching themselves at Jensmonk Island, off of Baffin Island. The youth “learn from us each trip,” said Uttak.
photo courtesy of Levy Uttak

Launching and maintaining a business involves “never ending” paperwork, Uttak said.

“I almost gave up a few times,” he admitted.

He said Travel Nunavut helped him overcome the administrative hurdles.