Helen Mamayaok Maksagak
Helen Mamayaok Maksagak, politician, public servant, community leader (born 15 April 1931 in Bernard Harbour, NWT [Nunavut]; died 23 January 2009 in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut).
Helen Mamayaok Maksagak, politician, public servant, community leader (born 15 Apr 1931 in Bernard Harbour, NWT [Nunavut]; died 23 January 2009 in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut). Born as a Copper Inuit, Maksagak grew up in several northern communities including Tuktoyaktuk, Aklavik (on the Peel channel of the Mackenzie River Delta,) and Bathurst Inlet. Early in her career she worked for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police several government committees including the Northwest Territories Round Table on the Environment, the Canada Committee of the International Year of the Family, the Cambridge Bay Housing Association Board, and the Drug and Alcohol Management Board for the Kitikmeot.
Maksagak became the deputy commissioner for the Northwest Territories in 1992 and remained in the position until, in 1994, she was appointed commissioner. She was the first woman, and the first Inuk, to hold these positions. On 1 April 1999, when the territory of Nunavut was established, she became the first commissioner of Canada's newest territory and held the position until 2000.
After leaving her position as commissioner, Maksagak continued to serve communities in Nunavut as part of the Nunavut Status of Women Council (2001-03) and as an elder on the board of directors for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (2004-2006.) In 2002, Helen Mamayaok Maksagak was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada. That same year she received an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University College of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia.
In 2005, she was again appointed as the deputy commissioner of Nunavut and served in that position until her death in 2009.