Nikki Komaksiutiksak from Chesterfield Inlet was announced as Pauktuutit’s Inuk Woman of the Year on Thursday while Malaya Bishop, originally from Iqaluit, was chosen as the organization’s Young Inuk Woman of the Year.

Komaksiutiksak is the executive director of Tunngasugit, Western Canada’s first Inuit Resource Centre in Winnipeg. She’s “an active member of the Inuit community there and uses her understanding of the south to assist other Inuit moving to the big city,” according to Pauktuutit.

“Nikki demonstrates a passion for her cultural identity. She is an experienced throat singer, teaches Inuit history and culture and is a heartfelt musical performer,” Pauktuutit stated. “Nikki has participated in several international events, including representing Manitoba and Inuit at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Summer Games and more currently, the 2015 Indigenous Music Awards in Winnipeg.

Malaya Bishop, an underwater research technician for Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team, has been chosen as Pauktuutit’s Young Inuk Woman of the Year. Photo courtesy of Pauktuutit

Bishop is an underwater research technician for Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team, focusing on the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site near Gjoa Haven.

“She researches Inuit observations and historical data and works with — and advocates for — locals to ensure their voices are included in decisions that impact their communities,” Pauktuutit stated.

“Malaya’s educational background encompasses an array of subjects that spark her interests in creativity, being active, problem solving, community engagement, and observing human behaviour. She completed college training in media production before earning her bachelor of arts in psychology with a certificate of community engagement and service-learning. Malaya then went on to complete a master of arts in Northern studies and her commercial scuba diving certification.

“Now, she advocates for diving to be recognized and acknowledged as a valid and legitimate career in Nunavut waters. She enjoys connecting with Inuit community members and schools to present on underwater archaeology and commercial diving careers. She has a passion for listening to stories and searching underwater for potential archaeological sites,” according to Pauktuutit, a national non-profit organization representing all Inuit women in Canada.

“These awards recognize the important contributions recipients are making within their communities and the inspiration they provide to other Inuit women,” said Gerri Sharpe, Pauktuutit’s president. “As an organization, we believe in strengthening the leadership capacity of Inuit women, particularly those who are bridging the gap for women across Inuit Nunangat and Inuit Nunangiit (urban).”

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