ICC president Aqqaluk Lynge receives honorary doctorate from Dartmouth College
"You have championed the self-determination of your native Greenland and the interests and unity of the Inuit of the Arctic Circle"
Aqqaluk Lynge, the president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree June 10 from Dartmouth College from Jim Yong Kim, the college’s president.
“Your brilliant ability to transform ideas into action has advanced the rights of indigenous peoples around the world and unified international efforts to combat global warming. A consummate poet-politician, cultural statesman, and true friend of Dartmouth, you have championed the self-determination of your native Greenland and the interests and unity of the Inuit of the Arctic Circle,” Jim Yong Kim said at the June 10 convocation ceremony. “In the great tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., you have written that “the ability to resist peacefully is a powerful tool.” You exercised this belief by helping to lead a nonviolent revolution for your country’s transition from colonial rule to self-government, setting a precedent for all indigenous peoples.
“Aqqaluk, you have shared the resilience and beauty of the Inuit soul with Dartmouth and the world. For your extraordinary dedication to promoting the rights of indigenous people everywhere and working to safeguard our planet from the cataclysmic ravages of climate change, Dartmouth is proud to award you the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters.”
“I receive this honourable title as a recognition of my work for Inuit rights in solidarity with the world’s indigenous peoples,” Lynge said.
Since 2006, Lynge had close ties with Dartmouth College, where he helped the university establish a recognized program on Arctic environmental policy.
Lynge also helped set up an exchange program for students from the Greenland’s Ilisimatusarfik and Dartmouth College.
Lynge linked up with the university as a senior researcher in 2008, and since then he has participated in several projects and conferences at the university’s campus in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Dartmouth College, founded in 1769 to educate First Nations students as Christian missionaries, is now considered to be one of the United States’ eight most prestigious “Ivy League” universities.
The honorary doctorate degree was awarded on the basis of Lynge’s extensive human rights work for the world’s indigenous peoples.
This includes his work for Inuit in the ICC and his membership in international and regional forums such as the United Nations Permanent Forum and the Arctic Council. In Greenland, Lynge is also known as an author and for his efforts to strengthen Greenlandic literature.
Lynge was also the first leader of the Greenland socialist party, Inuit Ataqatigiit, which he co-founded in the 1970s. He was first elected to the Greenland Parliament in 1983, and has served as a member of Parliament and minister of various portfolios.
Only two other Greenlanders have previously received honorary doctor degrees: former Premier Jonathan Motzfeldt from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in 1985 and Robert Petersen from Université Laval in 1992.
Lynge, who follows Canadian Inuit politics closely, sent a congratulatory letter June 7 to Terry Audla, the newly-elected president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
“I hope to meet you in person in the near future and look forward to talking with you at your convenience to introduce you to our ongoing work on international issues. As an international voice for Inuit, ICC faces many challenges that need to be adressed in order to promote our rights and to that end it is important that we have coordinated strategies on these,” Lynge said.
At ICC’s last executive council meeting, members adopted ICC-Canada’s proposal to host the ICC general assembly in Nain, Labrador in 2014.
“I am looking forward to working with you in preparation of ICC GA in 2014. I look forward to working with you and hope to continue the good relations with Inuit. I wish you all success with your endeavours,” Lynge said.