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Mariano Aupilardjuk

Culture, Heritage and Spirituality (2001)

To charter a successful course across the barrens and on into the future, Canada’s Inuit need bridges that reach from their timeless and honoured past. Over a life that has spanned seven decades, Nunavut’s Mariano Aupilardjuk has himself become a bridge. A respected Elder in Rankin Inlet, an isolated community that hugs Hudson Bay, Mr. Aupilardjuk is widely recognized by the Inuit. They look to him for his wisdom, his teachings and his healing abilities. Mr. Aupilardjuk’s commitment to sharing Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit – traditional knowledge – is total and it is complete. “Mr. Aupilardjuk speaks of values and the use of traditional knowledge in a way that links the past, the present and the future of Inuit people in Nunavut,” Kivalliq Inuit Association President Paul Kaladjak says without hesitation. “Throughout his life, he has counseled and advised many people, from local community residents to high-profile politicians on how to best utilize those teachings of traditional ways into how they could be used in modern society.” In talks at local elementary and secondary schools and through presentations at Arctic College and across Canada, Mr. Aupilardjuk has offered his wisdom without hesitation, asking for nothing in return. He teaches youth traditional Inuit land skills, advises the RCMP, speaks frankly to Government of Nunavut ministers and civil servants, and facilitates community and pan-territorial healing services. Mr. Aupilardjuk has participated in numerous Nunavut oral history projects and has helped ensure his people’s story-telling tradition will go on forever.