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Eva Aariak

Assumed office 
November 19, 2008[1]
Preceded by Paul Okalik

Assumed office 
October 27, 2008
Preceded by Ed Picco

Born Arctic Bay, Northwest Territories[2] (now Nunavut)
Political party Independent
Residence Iqaluit, Nunavut
Occupation CBC reporter, teacher, Languages Commissioner of Nunavut

Eva Aariak1, MLA is a Canadian 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 Premier of Nunavut, under the territory's consensus government system, on November 14, 2008.[3]



Prior to her election as an MLA, Aariak was the first Languages Commissioner for Nunavut.[4] Originally appointed to a four-year term beginning in 1999, her term was later extended for another year until December 2004.[5] In her capacity as Languages Commissioner, one of her more noted achievements was to choose ikiaqqivik as the Inuktitut language word for the Internet; the word 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.[6]

After stepping down as Languages Commissioner she 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.[4] She was later reappointed as acting commissioner in December 2007 after the resignation of then Languages Commissioner, Johnny Kusugak.[2]

She has also served as coordinator of the Baffin Divisional Education Council's Inuktitut language book publishing program[7], as president of the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce[8] and as chair of the Nunavut Film Development Corporation.[9]

Political career

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[10] 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.[11]

At the Nunavut Leadership Forum on November 14, 2008, Aariak was chosen as the new premier over incumbent Paul Okalik and MLA Tagak Curley.[12] She is the only woman currently serving as a provincial or territorial premier in Canada, and only the fifth woman — after Rita Johnston, Nellie Cournoyea, Catherine Callbeck and Pat Duncan — ever to hold a premiership. She is the sixth female First Minister in the country, that total including former prime minister Kim Campbell.


  • Note 1: Aariak is occasionally seen as Arreak, which was the original spelling and was due to non-Inuit mishearing the pronunciation of names.[13]




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