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Piita Irniq: Remembering Yvo Airut is easy, letting him go is harder

Yvo Airut grew up in Naujaat - Aivilik - Repulse Bay.

As a childhood friend, we grew up together in Naujaat. He was a bit older than I was and he always had a great sense of humour.

Yvo Airut was a prominent Kivalliq businessman – he is remembered here by longtime friend Piita Irniq. photo courtesy of Lisa Airut

As young boys we would play together. I remember one time, he had a nice toy boat, made by his father. As traditional people, most of our little toys were all home-made. Sometimes we would play together with the other boys with our toy boats at Tasiraaluk, a large pond in Naujaat. Or sometimes, we would play football, with the one and only football in Naujaat, which belonged to the Roman Catholic Church.

I remember when he and his parents and siblings were leaving by dog team from Naujaat to Kangiqliniq - Rankin Inlet in May 1962. I was sad to see him and his family leaving because I was losing a friend.

The years went by and Yvo Airut was one of the first Inuit to work at the mine in Lynn Lake. I saw him often between 1979 and 1997 in Rankin Inlet. He already had Yvo Shop. Although he was born on the land and traveled by dog team in Naujaat-Aivilik, he became a very successful snowmobile and ATV dealer in Rankin Inlet. As an Inuk businessman, he was very adaptable!

In the early stages of his business I remember that he and his companions traveled from Rankin Inlet to places such as Arctic Bay, promoting his Yamaha snowmobiles. And no doubt, many people from there will remember him as well.

As a businessman he became involved with Kivalliq Chamber of Commerce and a role model for many Inuit, who wanted to start their own business and many Inuit followed his example. Not only did he help the people of Kivalliq Region, he helped many other people across Nunavut.

He was a father and raised wonderful children in Rankin Inlet. My family is friends with his family. In the past several years when he was not well anymore and living in Iglulik, I would call him, just to make him feel good and that someone is thinking of him.

It was easy to laugh with Yvo. Not long ago I said to him: "Arnaqatiksautiga ... Hello my cousin to be in the future..." This is how we referred to each other in our lives. Yvo was always smart and answered: "I wonder when we will become full cousins ..." We both laughed.

Yvo Airut was well-liked by many people throughout Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Canada. He will be missed for his easy-going lifestyle, for his humour and great smiles!

Thank you Yvo Airut for having been our friend on earth.

'Til we meet again.