Kiviaq (lawyer)

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Edmonton City Councillor
In office
Personal details
Born David Charles Ward
(1936-01-23)January 23, 1936
Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut
Died April 24, 2016(2016-04-24) (aged 80)
Edmonton, Alberta
Alma mater Northwestern State University
Washington State University
Occupation Lawyer

Kiviaq (born David Charles Ward;[1] January 23, 1936 – April 24, 2016) was a Canadian Inuit lawyer, politician, and former sportsman.[2] He was raised in Edmonton, Alberta.

In 1968, he became involved in politics, being elected to Edmonton city council and winning the Vanier Award as one of Canada's "five most outstanding young men," for his work as a public relations officer and recreational director for the city. He served on the Edmonton City Council as an alderman, and ran for mayor in the 1970s. A personable politician, he successfully lobbied for the Commonwealth Games. He ran his own open-line radio show at CJCA and CJOI before going to law school. He was the first Inuk to become a lawyer, and was responsible for several important advances in establishing the legal rights of the Inuit people. He was called to the bar in 1983, a moment recognized in a letter from then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau as a "solid and progressive achievement in the history of your people." In September 2000, Mr. Ward made the initial application to change his name back to Kiviaq, the single-word Inuktituk name that his parents gave him when he was an infant, and in 2001, he won that right.[1][3] In 2003, Edmonton mayor Bill Smith declared March 14 "Kiviaq Day".[4]

Athletic career[edit]

In Edmonton, Kiviaq took to boxing to deal with racially motivated abuse from other children. He won his first Golden Gloves championship at age 13, and later became a prizefighter, winning 108 of 112 fights, capturing a string of provincial and Golden Glove championships. In 1955, aged 19, he became the first Inuk (or "Eskimo") to play on the Edmonton Eskimos football team. However, Kiviaq never played a regular-season game. Before the season started he suffered a broken neck that left him paralyzed; however, he subsequently made a full recovery. He later won a scholarship to play football at Northwestern State College in Louisiana. He was still eligible to play college ball because he had never earned a salary playing for the Eskimos.


Kiviaq had Ménière's disease, and for much of his life was unable to ride on an airplane or be a passenger in a vehicle without becoming physically ill; however, by 2009, surgeries to treat his cancer had altered his metabolism to the degree that travel sickness was no longer a problem.[5] He battled cancer for many years until he died on April 24, 2016 in an Edmonton hospice.[6]


He is the subject of the documentary film Kiviaq vs. Canada, by award-winning producer Zacharias Kunuk.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b >Kiviaq Versus Canada presskit, at Catbird Productions; 2006; retrieved January 9, 2013
  2. ^
  3. ^ Names and Nunavut: Culture and Identity in the Inuit Homeland, by Valerie Alia; published by Berghahn Books, 2008; via Google Books
  4. ^ "Atanarjuat director celebrates modern-day champion". CTV television network. 2006-04-25. Retrieved 2007-03-02. 
  5. ^ Famed Inuk returns to Kivalliq for first time in 70 years, by Darrell Greer, at Northern News Service Online; published September 9, 2009; retrieved April 29, 2016
  6. ^ 'I am what I am:' Inuit Kiviaq was pioneer in sport, law and politics

External links[edit]