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Tagak Curley

MLA for Keewatin South, NT
In office
1979 – 1983
Preceded by new district
Succeeded by riding dissolved

MLA for Aivilik, NT
In office
1983 – 1987
Preceded by first member
Succeeded by Peter Irniq

Assumed office 
Preceded by Jack Anawak

Born 1944
Coral Harbour
Political party non-partisan
consensus government

Tagak Curley (born 1944) is an Inuit leader, politician and businessman from Nunavut. As a prominent figure in the negotiations that led to the creation of Nunavut, Tagak is considered a living father of confederation in Canada.

He was born in a hunting camp at Coral Harbour, Northwest Territories (now Nunavut).

From 1966 to 1970, he worked as a development officer with the federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Based on his experiences, Curley became politically active and took on leadership roles at the local level to promote better living conditions for Inuit in local communities across Nunavut. From 1970 to 71, Curley served as the Repulse Bay settlement manager. He also acted as editor of the Keewatin Echo, the first English-Inuktitut newspaper in Canada.

He was a founding member and the first president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (Inuit Tapirisat of Canada) in 1971. ITK was formed to represent Nunavut Inuit by their own organization.

Curley held leadership positions with the Inuit Cultural Institute, the group that first initiated the process to recognize Nunavut as a formal territory in Canada, as well as Nunasi Corporation, an Inuit economic development organization, and in Nunavut Construction.

At the territorial level, Curley served as a member of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories from 1979 to 1987; at the time, Nunavut was under the Northwest Territories. While in government, he held several cabinet posts, including the minister of economic development, minister of Mines and Resources Secretariat, and minister of public utilities from 1984 to 1987, and minister of government services in 1986-87.

He ran as a federal Liberal candidate in the 1979 election for the Nunatsiaq (now Nunavut) riding, coming in second to Peter Ittinuar.

In the years following the passage of the Nunavut Act, Curley acted as business manager for Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI), the organization responsible for representing the Nunavut Inuit under the Nunavut land claim agreement.

In 1998, Curley was awarded the Aboriginal Lifetime Achievement award for his contribution and leadership in business. In October 2003, Curley received the Order of Canada.

In the 2004 Nunavut general election, Curley was acclaimed for the Nunavut riding of Rankin Inlet North.

He re-entered politics to improve local government for his people and community. After the election, Curley challenged Paul Okalik for premiership of Nunavut, but was not elected by the Legislative Assembly.[1] He later called for Okalik to resign as premier after Okalik made derogatory remarks about a senior municipal government official from Iqaluit to that city's mayor, Elisapee Sheutiapik.[2]

In 2008, he appeared in the documentary Passage, challenging 19th century claims by Lady Franklin, widely believed at the time, that the Inuit were responsible for signs of cannibalism among her husband's doomed expedition through the Northwest Passage.


  1. ^ Okalik re-elected as Nunavut premier
  2. ^ Nunavut MLA calls for premier's resignation over comments,, July 6, 2007.

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