Eva Aariak

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Eva Aariak

Premier Eva Aariak.jpg
2nd Premier of Nunavut
In office
November 19, 2008[1] – November 19, 2013[2]
CommissionerAnn Meekitjuk Hanson
Edna Elias
Preceded byPaul Okalik
Succeeded byPeter Taptuna
Member of the Legislative Assembly
In office
October 27, 2008 – October 28, 2013
Preceded byEd Picco
Succeeded byriding redistributed
ConstituencyIqaluit East
Personal details
Eva Qamaniq Aarik

(1955-01-10) January 10, 1955 (age 64)[3]
Arctic Bay,
Northwest Territories, Canada[4]
Political partyIndependent
ResidenceIqaluit, Nunavut
OccupationCBC reporter, teacher, Languages Commissioner of Nunavut

Eva Qamaniq Aariaka CM (Inuktitut: ᐄᕙ ᐋᕆᐊᒃ, IPA: [iːva aːʁiak]; born January 10, 1955) is a Canadian Inuk politician, who was elected in the 2008 territorial election to represent the electoral district of Iqaluit East in the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut. She was subsequently chosen as the second Premier of Nunavut, under the territory's consensus government system, on November 14, 2008.[5] Aariak was the fifth woman to serve as a premier in Canada.


Prior to her election as an MLA, Aariak was the first Languages Commissioner for Nunavut.[6] Originally appointed to a four-year term beginning in 1999, her term was later extended for another year until December 2004.[7]

In her capacity as Languages Commissioner, she was asked to choose an Inuktitut language word for the Internet; she settled on ikiaqqivik[pronunciation?], which literally means "travelling through layers" and refers to the traditional Inuit concept of a shaman travelling through time and space to find answers to spiritual and material questions.[8]

After stepping down as Languages Commissioner she then went on to teach Inuktitut at the Pirurvik Centre in Iqaluit, and later owned and operated Malikkaat, a retail store in Iqaluit which sold Inuit arts and crafts.[6] She was later reappointed as acting commissioner in December 2007 after the resignation of then Languages Commissioner, Johnny Kusugak.[4]

She also served as coordinator of the Baffin Divisional Education Council's Inuktitut language book publishing program,[9] as president of the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce[10] and as chair of the Nunavut Film Development Corporation.[11]

Political career[edit]

Aariak was the only woman elected to the Legislative Assembly in the 2008 election. She subsequently expressed her disappointment with that fact, suggesting that improved daycare services in Nunavut might be needed to help women participate more actively in the political process[12] and that the territory should revisit the failed proposal to have a smaller number of electoral districts, each of which would choose one man and one woman as MLAs.[13]

Two other women, Jeannie Ugyuk and Monica Ell-Kanayuk, were subsequently elected to the legislature in by-elections.

At the Nunavut Leadership Forum on November 14, 2008, Aariak was chosen as the new premier over incumbent Paul Okalik and MLA Tagak Curley.[14] She was the fifth woman, after Rita Johnston, Nellie Cournoyea, Catherine Callbeck and Pat Duncan, to hold a premiership in Canada, and the sixth female First Minister in the country including former Prime Minister Kim Campbell.

On September 5, 2013, Aariak announced that while she would seek re-election as an MLA for the new electoral district of Iqaluit-Tasiluk in the 2013 election, she was not interested in second term as premier when the new Legislative Assembly took office.[15] On October 28, 2013 Aariak was not re-elected as an MLA, losing by 43 votes to George Hickes.[16]


  • ^a Aariak is occasionally seen as Arreak, which was the original spelling and was due to non-Inuit mishearing the pronunciation of names.[17]


  1. ^ The Honourable Eva Aariak, archived from the original on 7 July 2012, retrieved 22 September 2013
  2. ^ Murphy, David (November 15, 2013). "MLAs choose Peter Taptuna to serve as Nunavut premier". Nunatsiaq News. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  3. ^ E-mail from the Office of Premier Eva Aariak (OTRS #2012082010009087)
  4. ^ a b Former Nunavut languages commissioner joins Iqaluit East race
  5. ^ "Nunavut names new premier", The Globe and Mail, November 14, 2008
  6. ^ a b "Malikkaat: For all things Inuit", Nunatsiaq News, November 10, 2006
  7. ^ Legislative Assembly Bids Fond Farewell to Languages Commissioner Eva Aariak Archived 2007-10-20 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Katharina Soukup, "Travelling Through Layers: Inuit Artists Appropriate New Technologies", Canadian Journal of Communication, 31: 1 (2006)
  9. ^ Nunavut @ Five Archived 2011-07-06 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce
  11. ^ "Nunavut Film Makers Receive Support for Projects", Nunavut Film Development Corporation, November 24, 2006
  12. ^ "Daycare needed to tip scales, says sole female MLA" Archived 2011-07-14 at the Wayback Machine, Northern News Services, November 3, 2008.
  13. ^ "Reconsider gender parity, says lone female Nunavut MLA", cbc.ca, October 29, 2008
  14. ^ "Eva Aariak chosen by MLAs as Nunavut's new premier and first woman leader", Canadian Press, November 14, 2008
  15. ^ Eva Aariak won't seek 2nd term as Nunavut premier. CBC News, September 5, 2013.
  16. ^ "Nunavut premier loses seat by 43 votes". Toronto Star, October 29, 2013.
  17. ^ In Old Names, a Legacy Reclaimed