Nunavut RCMP Sgt. Yvonne Niego, the first Inuk woman from Nunavut to be promoted to Corporal then Sergeant, received the Community Service Award at a luncheon gathering of the International Association of Women Police in Winnipeg today.

“She had many career options growing up but chose to follow her childhood interest in policing,” says IAWP president Jane Townsley in a news release.

“She embodies what every police officer should be, unselfish, determined and willing to do whatever it takes to make a positive change.”

Niego grew up in Baker Lake, Nunavut, and attended residential school in Churchill and Yellowknife.

She was the first person from her community to go to university, studying at the University of Calgary.

Niego was first recruited to the RCMP in 1989 as a summer student, following in the footsteps of a great uncle who had been an RCMP Special Constable.

She went to the RCMP training academy in 1991, becoming the first female Inuk from Nunavut to become a full regular member. She began her career in Iqaluit and spent several years on the job in Baker Lake.

She also spent some time away from the force, holding several positions with both the territorial and municipal governments.

Niego was eventually recruited to the Community and Aboriginal Policing Directorate at RCMP Headquarters in Ottawa. 

Upon her return to Iqaluit, she was promoted to her current role as non-commissioned officer in charge of community policing for Nunavut.

She now oversees all community policing initiatives, including firearms safety. She’s also an accomplished crisis negotiator. 

On top of that, Niego is active in other local organizations, including suicide prevention and youth groups.