Nellie Kusugak named as new Nunavut commissioner

Nellie Kusugak has been deputy commissioner since 2010 and has been acting commissioner since Edna Elias's term ended May 12.

Has been acting commissioner since end of Edna Elias's term

Nellie Kusugak, Nunavut's new commissioner, is a retired teacher of traditional and cultural education. She has been serving as Nunavut's deputy commissioner since 2010. (CBC)

Nellie Kusugak has been appointed commissioner of Nunavut, the prime minister's office announced Tuesday. 

Kusugak, who is from Rankin Inlet, has been deputy commissioner since 2010 and has been acting commissioner since Edna Elias's term ended May 12.

She is a retired instructor and teacher of traditional and cultural education in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

"Nellie Taptaqut Kusugak's deep knowledge of government and the Inuit language and culture make her an ideal choice as Commissioner of Nunavut and I am certain she will excel in this role," said Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a news release.

Kusugak is Nunavut's fifth commissioner, following Edna Elias (2010-2015), Ann Meekitjuk Hanson (2005-2010), Peter Irniq (2000-2005), and Helen Maksagak (1999-2000).

A commissioner is the symbolic head of state of a territory, similar to the role of a lieutenant governor in a province. Bills passed by the Legislative Assembly do not become law until they receive the commissioner's assent.

Kusugak is the first Nunavut commissioner to be selected by the non-partisan committee process announced in 2012 that now selects territorial commissioners, provincial lieutenant governors and Canada's governors general.

The advisory committee that helped select Nunavut's new commissioner was made up of the committee's three permanent members, Kevin MacLeod, Robert Watt and Jacques Monet; and two temporary members from Nunavut, Charlie Evalik and Mike Shouldice.

The committee comes up with a shortlist of candidates that is given to the prime minister.