Addition of Nunavut to the Centennial Flame
December 13, 2017
Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Honourable senators, I would like to begin with a few words in Inuktitut.
[Editor’s Note: Senator Patterson spoke in Inuktitut.]
Today at noon, I was delighted to witness the addition, finally, of the crest of Nunavut to the Centennial Flame and the relighting of that flame. For me, this brought a sense of closure. As a young lawyer in Frobisher Bay — now Iqaluit — in 1979, I campaigned for a seat as a member of the legislature in the Northwest Territories on the platform of settling the Inuit land claim and establishing a separate territory in what is now Nunavut. It was quite the upset when I won, and I was privileged to continue to win four consecutive terms.
As a representative of the Government of the Northwest Territories, I was also privileged to sign the agreement in principle with now Premier Paul Quassa in 1993, which settled the Inuit land claim and provided for the establishment of the territory of Nunavut.
So to be here in 2017, 18 years after the creation of Nunavut, bearing witness to this historic moment, has been a very special and emotional experience. Now one of the most-visited landmarks in our nation’s capital finally includes every province and territory of this great country. The event was made more special by the presence of many of Nunavut’s leaders, including Premier Paul Quassa; members of his cabinet and members of the legislative assembly; Nellie Kusugak, Commissioner of Nunavut; Aluki Kotierk, President of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.; P.J. Akeeagok, President of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association; and Natan Obed, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. It was also very moving to have traditional Inuit performances by throat-singers Tamara Takpannie — who, incidentally, is also my intern — and Janice Oolayou, as well as drum dancing and singing by Nunavut Sivuniksavut.
As Premier Quassa said today, Nunavut plays an important role in protecting the sovereignty and security of our country. So its inclusion is an important step to publicly recognizing the territory’s importance to the country.
It continues to be a privilege and an honour to represent such a unique and culturally rich territory, and I know that Nunavummiut look on today with pride as Nunavut becomes part of this great landmark. Qujannamiik.