Louie Kamookak among several Northerners honoured with Order of Canada appointments
4 contributors to Indigenous self-governance were recognized
Politicians, a historian, an artist and an athlete are among the northerners who are being invested into the Order of Canada as 2017 comes to a close.
For his contribution to Canada at a national level, Louie Kamookak will become an Officer of the Order of Canada, while James Eetoolook, Andrew Qappik, Minnie Grey, Gérard Duhaime, Douglas Stenton, Abel Bosum and Stephanie Dixon will become members of the Order.
Members are chosen for their outstanding contributions at the local or regional level or in a special field of activity. Close to 7,000 Canadians have been recognized with this high civilian honour since it was established in 1967.
Louie Kamookak honoured
Kamookak is best known for his contribution to the discovery of HMS Erebus, the second ship to be found from failed polar explorer John Franklin's expedition.
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Kamookak, 58, has been collecting Inuit oral history on the subject most of his life and is being recognized for "his relentless dedication to collecting and showcasing the stories of the Inuit of Nunavut."
As a student support worker at the high school in Gjoa Haven, he passes on what he's learned. He also runs field courses to historical sites around Gjoa Haven during the summer.
"When I get recognition, I think back to the elders or the Gjoa ancestors who knew about all the history," he said. "It makes me feel [grateful] for the people that have passed away that I've interviewed, the people who passed on their stories to me."
This will not be the first time Kamookak is recognized by a Canadian Governor General. He was among the recipients of the inaugural Polar Medal, presented by David Johnston in 2015.
Returning to his first interest, he is continuing his work as a historian by trying to locate John Franklin's body.
"There's strong Inuit history that Franklin may be somewhere on King William Island placed in a vault."
4 Nunavummiut included
In addition to Kamookak, James Eetoolook, Douglas Stenton and Andrew Qappik were recognized from Nunavut.
Eetoolook, currently the vice-president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., was included for his contributions as an advocate for Inuit rights, notably in protecting and fostering culture and heritage. He was very involved in negotiating the Nunavut Agreement.
Qappik has been recognized for his work in printmaking and sculpting. His first prints were entered into the Pangnirtung annual catalogue when he was 14.
Since then, he has worked on several recognizable symbols across the territory including advising the Chief Herald of Canada on Nunavut's coat-of-arms and flag. He also created the polar bear logo for the government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik's logo.
Douglas Stenton worked with the Inuit Heritage Trust, then as the director of heritage with the government of Nunavut. He helped develop the laws and policies that govern archeology in the territory.
He has been involved in archeological research in Nunavut since 1980, with a focus on the Thule period. More recently, he was involved in the investigation of historical sites associated with the Franklin expedition.
He's being honoured for his "enduring contributions" to the preservation of Canada's northern heritage.
Contributors to Indigenous self-governance recognized
Minnie Grey from Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, has been a leading figure in negotiations to create a Nunavik regional government. She has worked to bolster health policy in Indigenous communities and been an advocate for youth.
Also recognized for his work in Nunavik, Gérard Duhaime, will become a member of the Order of Canada for his dedication to improving socio-economic conditions in the region.
He was a member of the Nunavik Commission, which looked at how Nunavik could form its own government, he is also Canada's current research chair on the Comparative Aboriginal Condition at the Université Laval.
Similarly, Abel Bosum, will see his leadership of the Oujé-Bougoumou Cree Nation recognized as well as his work developing the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Cree territory.
He is currently the Grand Chief of the Quebec Cree, a position he won in July, on a promise to increase affordable housing across the region.
Yukon swimmer among recipients
One of Canada's most successful swimmers with a disability, Stephanie Dixon, from Whitehorse, has also been recognized with membership in the order.
Born with one leg, she competed against able-bodied athletes growing up. In her first Paralympic Games in Sydney in 2000, the then-16-year-old won four gold medals. In her career, she won a total of 17 medals.
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All new members will be recognized at a ceremony in Ottawa held by the Governor General of Canada in the new year.
In total, 125 new appointments were made: four Companions, 35 Officers and 86 members.