Piita Irniq

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Piita Taqtu Irniq
2nd Commissioner of Nunavut
In office
April 1, 2000 – April 21, 2005
Prime MinisterJean Chrétien
Paul Martin
PremierPaul Okalik
Preceded byHelen Maksagak
Succeeded byAnn Meekitjuk Hanson
MLA for Keewatin Region
In office
March 10, 1975 – October 1, 1979
Preceded byfirst member
Succeeded bydistrict abolished
MLA for Aivilik
In office
October 5, 1987 – October 15, 1991
Preceded byTagak Curley
Succeeded byJames Arvaluk
Personal details
Born (1947-08-22) August 22, 1947 (age 75)
Lyon Inlet near Repulse Bay, Northwest Territories, Canada
Occupationcultural teacher

Piita Taqtu Irniq, formerly Peter Irniq, (born February 1, 1947) is an Inuk politician in Canada, who served as the second commissioner of Nunavut from April 2000 to April 2005.


Inuksuk erected by Piita Irniq for the permanent exhibition The Ancient Americas of The Field Museum

Born in Lyon Inlet near Repulse Bay, Northwest Territories (now Naujaat, Nunavut). Irniq is an Inuit cultural teacher and has lived most of his life in the Kivalliq Region of Nunavut, including Naujaat, Coral Harbour, Baker Lake, Chesterfield Inlet, Rankin Inlet, and Iqaluit. He has also lived in the Western Arctic (Northwest Territories), Manitoba and Ontario.

Irniq was the executive assistant to the assistant commissioner of the NWT. from 1974 to 1975. He was elected to the 1975 Northwest Territories general election and represented the riding of the Keewatin Region for four years. He was the first Inuk to be made assistant regional director for the Department of the Executive in the former Keewatin Region (Kivalliq), 1979 until 1981.

As superintendent of renewable resources, he was the first Inuk to hold this position and encouraged the hiring of Inuit into the department. In 1982, Irniq was appointed the first Speaker of the Keewatin Council, a position he held until 1983. Elected [president of the Keewatin Inuit Association, he served in this capacity for five years.

Irniq was re-elected to the Northwest Territories Legislature in the 1987 general election for the Aivilik electoral district. He ran on a platform of encouraging Inuit to participate at higher levels in employment, education, and business. He ran again in the 1991 general election; however, James Arvaluk defeated him.

He was named the executive director of the Inuit Cultural Institute in 1992. A year later, he became director of communications for Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated.

As a member of the Nunavut Implementation Commission, Irniq served on the Communication and Governmental Operations Committees and was a spokesperson for the Commission on Nunavut in Canada and overseas and was active in seeking justice for the former students of the infamous Joseph Bernier residential school in Chesterfield Inlet, who suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of school staff.[1]

Irniq was assistant director, Nunavut, Heritage/Culture, Department of Education, Culture and Employment for the Government of N.W.T. where he was responsible for developing culture and heritage programs and services to meet the needs of the new territory of Nunavut, 1997–98. He became deputy minister of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth, 1998–99. His mandate was to be the guardian of traditional Inuit culture and language.

In August 1999, Irniq was seconded to the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut to set up the offices of the Official Languages, Access to Information and Conflict of Interest Commissioners.[2]

In addition, Irniq writes an Inuit perspective column for the Nunavut News/North newspaper.

In 2003, he was made a Commander of the Order of St. John.[3] In 2005, he was appointed to the board of directors of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.[4] Most recently, he served as a key consultant on the National Film Board of Canada project Unikkausivut: Sharing Our Stories.[5]


Coat of arms of Piita Irniq
Peter Irniq Arms.svg
The arms of Piita Irniq, presented on a roundel rather than the escutcheon shape traditional in European heraldry, consist of:[6]
A demi Inuit man holding a drum and beater proper.
Azure an inuksuk, in dexter chief an Inuit drum and beater in saltire Or.
Dexter a muskox standing on a snow bank, sinister a ringed seal proper issuant from barry wavy Azure and Argent.
"Let us move forward”, is stated in Inuinnaqtun and Inuktitut

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Index I, Rulers web pages, undated, retrieved on 2008-09-03.
  2. ^ Gurston, Dacks (2009). "Irniq, Peter". The Canadian Encyclopedia > Biography > Commissioners. Historica-Dominion. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
  3. ^ Canada Gazette, 2003-05-23, Vol. 137, No. 21. Archived 2006-02-26 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 2008-09-03.
  4. ^ News Release "Appointment to Board of Directors of Canadian Race Relations Foundation", 2005-11-24, retrieved on 2008-09-03.
  5. ^ "Collaborators". National Film Board of Canada website. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  6. ^ Canadian Heraldic Authority (Volume IV), Ottawa, 2001, p. 133

External links[edit]

Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories
Preceded by
New District
MLA Keewatin Region
Succeeded by
District Abolished
Preceded by MLA Aivilik
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Commissioner of Nunavut
Succeeded by