Pauktuutit chooses Nunavik mayor, social activist as woman of the year
“I am very proud of her”
OTTAWA — A great-grandmother, youth mentor and tireless supporter of social and cultural programs in Inukjuak has been chosen as Pauktuutit’s Woman of the Year for 2014.
Siasi Smiler Irqumiaq, the Hudson Bay town’s mayor, was chosen by Pauktuutit’s board of directors through a secret ballot at the organization’s annual general meeting in Ottawa March 13.
All three woman-of-the-year nominees were from Nunavik this year and included Alicie Nalukturuk of Inukjuak and Olivia Ikey of Kuujjuaq.
Minnie Etidloie, a board member from Kangiqsujuaq, who was overjoyed at the news, said she’s very proud that a woman from her region has been chosen as this year’s recipient of the prestigious award.
With the help of interpreter July Papatsie, Etidloie told Nunatsiaq News she has known Irqumiaq for 50 years and that she truly deserves the award.
“She is a very hard-working woman, she works for women’s wellness and against violence against women,” Etidloie said.
“She lobbies for traditional knowledge and works with young people on how to get away from violence.”
Etidloie said Irqumiaq has been involved in drug and alcohol prevention as well and that her reputation has earned her respect in Inukjuaq and throughout Nunavik.
“She’s not afraid to go into a room full of powerful men, to be among them and not be intimidated,” Etidloie said. “I am very proud of her.”
Mary Atagotaaluk nominated Irqumiaq for this year’s award.
On the nomination form, Atagotaaluk praised Irqumiaq for everything from teaching women and youth traditional skills such as sewing kamiit and amautiit to reuniting families who had been relocated to the High Arctic.
“In general, Siasi is a very busy Inuk woman, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, wife, cousin and aunt,” Atagotaaluk wrote.
“Whether she is being a seamstress, councillor or a political representative, Siasi does what she does with kindness, with understanding and with enthusiasm. She is a very good role model to young Inuit women.”