To many people through out Nunavut, Nunavik, I am likely a familiar face.I was a police officer with the Kativik Regional Police Force in Kuujjuaraapik and Akulivik, Nunavik.For 10 years, I was the Executive Director of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA). And for the past year I served as the Executive Director of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI).
During my tenure at QIA, the organization launched a court injunction to stop seismic testing in Lancaster Sound, and at NTI, I helped finalize a Resource Revenue Policy and deposited the first royalty payment of $2.2 million into that policy’s Trust.
Folks on Twitter might know me as the guy who razzes Sea Shepherd “Captain” Paul Watson with his keyboard and suggests song lyrics on the beauty of sealing to Sarah McLachlan.
But to most people, I am just Terry. I am a descendant of High Arctic Exiles, relocated from Inukjuak. I grew up in Resolute Bay during the oil and gas boom.My father was a member of the Indian and Eskimo Brotherhood Association and worked with the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (ITC) during its formative years.
I am inspired by the work of our early leaders such as Jose Kusugak, whom we all miss, and Jacob Oweetaluktuk of Nunavik, who said during ITC’s first meeting in 1971, “Our culture is still here,but in the near future it is not going to be the same as it used to be…. We have to find an organized voice amongst ourselves so we may direct our lives the way we want them to be.”
Those words still ring true. In taking up my new role as President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, I pay respect to the leaders who came before me, and I promise that I will continue their passion. Just as Jacob advocated 41 years ago, ITK must play a central role in helping Inuit seize control of our lives.
We can do this by representing Inuit with a unified voice at the national level. Inuit unity has always been in our strength.We must protect the concept of one voice for Canadian Inuit to ensure that our representational role remains unquestioned.
Inuit are still fighting to play a primary role in the conservation of our environment while retaining control of our resources (renewable and non-renewable). Inuit are still fighting for Inuit-specific, Inuit-directed education. Inuit are still fighting for the right and support to speak our Inuit language. Inuit are still fighting f or equitable health care. Inuit are still fighting t o protect and preserve our culture.
The time has come for us to develop our resources so that we can begin to win these battles. We must take control of our own destinies by developing our own resources and ensuring Inuit are ready to participate in this process.
We are ready to jump on board and focus on ending social injustice and poverty through economic development. The rest of the world is coming for our resources. This must happen only with Inuit at the steering wheel and on our terms.
Qujannamiik, Nakurmiik, Matna, Koana, Qujaannaini.