This past fall, three northern veteran leaders received order of Nunavut medals. Father Robert Lechat, Bill Lyall and Tagak Curley were presented with their awards in a ceremony at the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut.
Father robert Lechat, 95, is one of northern Canada’s oldest surviving Christian missionary’s. An oblate priest who travelled to the eastern Arctic in the late 1940s and early 1950s, he performed missionary work for many years in communities such as Kangiqsujuaq, Igloolik and Hall Beach. He was instrumental in encouraging the late mitiarjuk Attasie nappaaluk of Kangiqsujuaq to write about her life, which resulted in the first novel written in Inuktitut syllabics.
Bill Lyall, 74, was born on Somerset Island, grew up in Taloyoak, and lived most of his adult life in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. He has served as a member in the Legislative Assembly of the northwest Territories, as president of Arctic Co-operatives Ltd., vice-chair of the Nunavut Implementation Commission, and became president of the Ikaluktutiak Co-op in Cambridge Bay in 1978, a position he still holds.
Tagak Curley, 71, was a founding member of the organization now known as Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, served as MLA for Aivilik in the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories, was MLA for Rankin Inlet North in the Nunavut Legislature, served a time as Nunavut health minister, and led the Nunavut Construction Corp., in 2004.