This year’s Upinnaqtuq Awards mark a historic moment for Nunavut: For the first time ever, nineteen recipients have been selected from every corner of the territory, representing all three regions of Nunavut.
“This is the largest number of award-winners we’ve ever had, and they come from the largest number of communities we’ve ever had,” says Nalini Vaddapalli, of the Nunavut Law Foundation. “They come from all across Nunavut, from the smallest communities to some of the largest. We thank every nominator for taking the time to share a story from their community”.
The Upinnaqtuq Awards, administered by the Nunavut Law Foundation, celebrate young leaders who have left a significant mark on their communities, demonstrating exceptional leadership qualities or undergoing positive transformations in attitude and behaviour to become role models.
“These young individuals exemplify the best of us,” Sarah Arngna’naaq, Chair of the Nunavut Law Foundation, said in a Nov. 6 news release.
“Their stories are those of courage, empathy, and of commitment to making a positive impact. They are not just leaders of tomorrow; they are leaders of today.”
Established in 2011, the Upinnaqtuq Awards pay tribute to the legacy of Justice Beverly Browne, a former Territorial Court Judge in the Northwest Territories who became the first Chief Justice of Nunavut when the territory was created in 1999 and served in that role for 10 years.
The 2023 awards also mark the introduction of a new category that recognizes an individual pursuing adult education. The winner of the inaugural award is Suki Hogaluk, from Cambridge Bay. Hogaluk’s nominator says the 24-year-old decided to go back to school to better herself and is becoming an independent young woman. “[S]he is very smart, personable and dedicated,” the nominator said.
The people who nominated this year’s award winners describe the winners as strong willed, committed and involved in their communities, as well as youth who respect and value tradition, family and cooperation.
The 2023 award winners are:
- Alice Kilaodluk – Cambridge Bay
- Cynthia Kilabuk – Iqaluit
- Desiree Kalluk – Resolute Bay
- Eunice Kalluk – Resolute Bay
- Joanasie Aglak – Pond Inlet
- Josiah Kalluk – Resolute Bay
- Kallaarjuk Taukie – Kinngait
- Kaniq Allerton – Iqaluit
- Katsuaq Saila – Kinngait
- Kiana Ekpakohak – Cambridge Bay
- Kiana Laurer Kitigon – Cambridge Bay
- Kim Canlas – Iqaluit
- Kupaaq Kalluk – Resolute Bay
- Nathalie Lexus Dion – Rankin Inlet
- Samuel Kalluk – Resolute Bay
- Sandy Temela – Kimmirut
- Suki Hogaluk – Cambridge Bay
- Tanner Kalluk – Resolute Bay
- Tia Kilabuk – Iqaluit
Upinnaqtuq, which translates to ‘pride and celebration’ in Inuktitut, were created to recognize Justice Browne’s dedication to youth and her commitment to the transformative influence of community leadership.
Every recipient has demonstrated how young people can positively impact their communities, whether through academic achievements, volunteer work, mentorship, or other manifestations of community involvement, along with displaying exemplary behaviors and attitudes.
This year’s distinguished recipients embody the essence of leadership, community service, resilience, and hope. Despite facing challenges, these youths have risen above, serving as beacons of change and inspiration.
“The awards are important because they recognize youth who have overcome challenges and young people who become leaders and role models in their community,” Nalini says. “They are inspirational in what they have been able to accomplish.