Jack Anawak

Jack Anawak pleaded guilty to impaired driving charges in the Nunavut Court of Justice today. (CBC)

Veteran Nunavut politician Jack Anawak, 67, pleaded guilty to impaired driving on Thursday in the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit, stemming from an incident in June.

"I entered a guilty plea because I did what I did, and I took full responsibility for what I did," Anawak told the CBC.

This was Anawak's second time facing a charge of impaired driving. He pleaded guilty to impaired driving in February of 2013, and then pleaded guilty to driving while under suspension in June that same year.

Anawak said he took the opportunity to address the court in a statement, saying leaders need to "realize they have to be accountable for [their] actions and we have to be able to tell people what they need to hear, not just what they want to hear."

Anawak was one of the first to speak out about suffering sexual abuse while at residential schools in Nunavut, but said whatever his personal history, it was no excuse for his actions.

"Whatever happened to us in the past may have had an impact on what we do, but that should not take away from the fact [of] being able to tell right from wrong," he said.

The impaired driving charges were outstanding while Anawak ran in the territorial election. He lost, but Anawak said he does not think the charges played a part in the election results.

"I think Inuit understand the difference between what you do when you are in an inebriated state and who you are as a person," he said.

Anawak was the Member of Parliament for the riding of Nunatsiaq from 1988 to 1997, prior to the creation of Nunavut in 1999. In 1999 he was elected to the Nunavut Legislative Assembly for Rankin Inlet North. 

Anawak will be back in court on Jan.15 for sentencing.

With files from Jordan Konek and Jane Sponagle