Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, received the Governor General's Northern Medal on Tuesday at a ceremony in Quebec City.
Former governor general Adrienne Clarkson created the award in 2005 to recognize people whose work contributes to the evolution of the Canadian North and affirms its place as part of Canada's national identity.
"Ms. Simon’s commitment to the North is unwavering. She is working to build sustainable communities and to ensure that Northern Canada and the Inuit culture have a strong voice in the rest of the country," said Gov. Gen. David Johnston in a speech at the presentation.
Simon was born in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Que., on Nunavik’s Ungava Coast and was the first Inuk to hold an ambassadorial position. She lives in Ottawa.
In a statement, ITK described her as an advocate for social justice for Inuit throughout her career, with a particular focus on children and youth and improving education for Inuit.
Previous recipients of the Northern Medal include Sheila Watt-Cloutier and Nellie Cournoyea, and filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk also received a Northern Medal this year. It was presented to him during the Governor General's visit to Iqaluit last month.