Montreal, Quebec December 11, 2008 – Pita Aatami, President of Makivvik, has recently been elected member of the College of Fellows of the Arctic Institute of North America, University of Calgary, a very prestigious research organization.
The Arctic Institute was created in 1945 by an act of the Canadian Parliament. Its mandate is to advance the study of the North American and circumpolar Arctic through the natural and social sciences, the arts and humanities and to acquire, preserve and disseminate information on physical, environmental and social conditions in the North.
Fellows of the Arctic Institute are elected in recognition of significant contributions to the knowledge of polar and/or sub-polar regions. The Institute currently has 149 Canadian Fellows, 124 American Fellows and 26 Fellows from other countries.
Mr. Aatami was elected Fellow for several reasons. The Selection Committee recognized that the President of Makivvik has played a key-role in bringing Inuit of Nunavik to the modern world. The signing in December 2007 in the Quebec National Assembly of an agreement for the creation of the Nunavik Regional Government, by Mr. Aatami on behalf of the Inuit of Nunavik, the Quebec Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and by the Premier of Quebec, was considered a very important turning point in the desire of the Inuit of Nunavik to have a form of government that would reflect their aspirations and vision.
In the field of research, the President of Makivvik provided the necessary support to the Makivvik Nunavik Research Centre located in Kuujjuaq. Environmental questions, environmental health, food security and sustainable living are at the core of the activities of the Centre. In June 2007, Makivvik and the Nunavik Research Centre received the Gold Award of the Canadian Environment Awards. Since 1995, the Centre has been housed in a state-of-the-art laboratory and is earning top marks from the community, politicians and other researchers for its successful integration of Western science and the ecological insights Inuit have acquired over thousands of years of living on the land.
In the fields of training and higher education, the Selection Committee recognized the personal commitment of Mr. Aatami to Inuit youth, and at his initiative, Makivvik established a Scholarship Fund to support Inuit students who are pursuing their studies in college, trade school and university. By visiting regularly Nunavik communities, Mr. Aatami tries to convince Inuit youth about the importance of education, and encouraging them to pursue their work. Several of his public speeches advocate strongly the importance of higher education in advancing the development of Nunavik.
In 2007, Reader´s Digest made Pita Aatami a “Hero of the Year” and described him as a “Tireless Fighter for His People” and underlined this tenacity and his leadership.
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