Former Pangnirtung MLA and mayor Hezakiah Oshutapik died suddenly over the weekend.
Oshutapik, 63, succumbed to a heart attack while out on the land on the evening of April 17, according to Daryl Dibblee, Pangnirtung’s senior administrative officer.
He was elected to the legislative assembly in a 2011 byelection and served one term.
The Nunavut legislature has lowered its flag to half-mast in his memory. Speaker Paul Quassa said he was saddened when he learned of the news.
“Mr. Oshutapik, who was serving as mayor of Pangnirtung at the time of his passing, made a significant number of contributions to his community through his work with such organizations as the Canadian Rangers,” said Quassa. “On behalf of all members of the legislative assembly, we extend our condolences to his family and the community.”
During Monday’s press conference for Covid-19 updates, Premier Joe Savikataaq took a moment to acknowledge Oshutapik’s death.
“Hezakiah Oshutapik was a strong leader in his community, and his sudden passing has left a great hole, said Savikataaq. “I send his friends and family my sympathies during this difficult time, and wish the people of Pangnirtung strength as they grieve.”
The Qikiqtani Inuit Association also paid homage to the late political leader.
“My thoughts are with Hezekiah Oshutapik’s family, friends and the community of Pangnirtung during this difficult time” said QIA President P.J. Akeeagok, “Hezekiah was a dedicated community leader who served Pangnirtung for years as an MLA and mayor. He will be remembered.”
Prior to entering politics, Oshutapik worked as a journeyman plumber and oil burner mechanic. He was also employed as a housing maintainer and served as chair of Pangnirtung Fisheries.
-with files from Rajnesh Sharma