Jacob Oweetaluktuk, one of the founding members of the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada—now known as Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK)—walked on October 31. He was 76.
“Jacob Oweetaluktuk was an inspiration to Inuit as a young man, and as an elder, he showed us the way forward as we looked to chart the next 40 years of ITK,” said ITK president Terry Audla in a statement. “His words guided me during my life, and they live on in the work of our organization.”
When ITK was first gathering in 1971, Oweetaluktuk spoke of the need for an “organized voice,” among Inuit groups.
“We have to find an organized voice amongst ourselves so we may direct our lives the way we want them to be,” he said during the group’s first gathering. “Maybe we should have something like an Inuit organization. Right now is the time to act so we may control ourselves in the kind of life we would like to have in the future. It is for these main reasons I think we are here at this very moment.”
Oweetaluktuk served as secretary-treasurer for the Northern Quebec Inuit Association and later was on the Board of Governors of its successor, the Makivik Corporation.
“He was not afraid to voice his opinion on regional and community issues and its people like him who put meaning to the word ‘role model,’ Makivik President Jobie Tukkiapik said in a statement. “He will be missed and his legacy as an Inuit rights activist will live on.”