Three Inuit from across the territory were recognized with President’s Awards during NTI’s annual general meeting in Cambridge Bay this week.
Louie Bruce from Coral Harbour, Agnes Panioyak from Kugluktuk and Leena Evic from Iqaluit each received awards, which were presented by NTI President Aluki Kotierk during the Oct. 20 meeting.
“We only recognized three people but we know there are lots of people that try and make a difference and improve the life of Inuit,” said Kotierk in Inuktitut during her presentation.
Bruce is the owner of Sudliq Developments Limited. He was awarded for his role in planning, developing and building the longest private road in the territory from Coral Harbour to Akearuqnak, Duke of York Bay.
The road to Duke of York Bay provides Sallirmiut with access to one of the richest hunting areas for both fish and marine mammals including polar bears, narwhals, beluga and seals.
“This road is not only benefiting Coral but is also making them closer with Naujaat,” said Kotierk. “I think this road has lots of benefits for the future.”
Panioyak was recognized for her skills as a seamstress. She is well known for her work throughout Nunavut and enjoys teaching younger Inuit women who are eager to learn traditional Inuit methods of sewing including making patterns, preparing material and using different tools.
“Last night I called her and she got emotional,” said Kotierk.
Most recently she worked as a puhitaq instructor. The puhitaq, or sunburst fur ruff, is known to be particularly superior to others, requiring care and attention to make.
The process involves taking many narrow strips of wolf hide and affixing them to a canvas, which creates a circular garment with a hole for the face. The puhitaq attaches to a parka hood, acting as a wind break and providing the wearer greater warmth.
“She makes those and she’s well known for that,” said Kotierk.
Evic was given an award for her work as the founder and president of Pirurvik Centre, the Nunavut-based, centre of excellence for Inuit language, culture and well being.
Evic built Pirurvik’s success by keeping the emphasis on teaching Inuktut and Inuit ways. Over the past year Pirurvik Centre has grown to offer three new full time Inuktut language courses in partnership with the University of Victoria
“At a critical point in Nunavut’s history, when Inuktut language use is declining at one per cent per year, Pirurvik Centre is ramping up their programs to address this crisis by introducing three key programs,” said Kotierk.
“With Leena’s’ expertise and willingness to share, Inuit culture and language transmission can occur among younger Inuit.”
In addition to their recognition each award recipient will receive $500 from NTI.