Let’s Move On

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Paul Okalik Speaks Out

Paul Okalik, Historical Context by Louis McComber Baraka Books, May 2018

Paul Okalik was raised in Pangnirtung, Nunavut, a community that survived starvation, epide­mics, eradication of its spiritual heritage, relocation, schooling in a foreign language, and confrontation with the Canadian justice system. After 10 years in Ottawa universities, he was called to the Northwest Territories Bar and then elected the first Premier of Nunavut in 1999 and held the position until 2008. Since then, he has held cabinet positions in charge of several ministries including Justice, Culture and Heritage, Qulliq Energy Corporation, Immigration, Labour, Languages, and the Liquor Licensing Board. While Okalik was Premier, Nunavut developed a civil service decentralized over 10 distant communities, built much-needed infrastructures and provided more affordable housing. The Inuit’s long-standing goal of self-government in Nunavut remains to be achieved. It is a work in progress. Let’s Move On is an expression of determination inherited from generations of Inuit, faced with harsh climatic conditions and colonial policies. Louis McComber lived in Iqaluit, Nunavut, from 1993 to 2005 and quickly became captivated by the process of the creation of Nunavut. He was a journalist for the French-language weekly l’Aquilon and the CBC North Boréal Hebdo radio show and wrote a bi-monthly column of political and cultural commentary in Nunatsiaq News. Louis McComber holds an MA in anthropology and has recently lectured in the First Peoples’ program at the University du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue.