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Aaju Peter, OC

aaju-peter-2_headAaju Peter, OC

Lawyer, Translator & Inuit Cultural Advocate

Citizenship: Canadian and Greenlandic
Iqaluit, Nunavut

Aaju Peter is an accomplished lawyer, translator and Inuit cultural advocate from Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Aaju will work with the Sedna Epic, enabling its sea women, advisers and partners to create North-South cultural bridges with the Inuit.

In her words, Aaju said: “We need to help the Inuit redefine their relationship with the ocean.” This has meaning on many levels, encompassing water safety, environment and climate change. But, on the most basic level, Aaju pointed to the fact that the Inuit don’t swim, and that many drown in the ocean.

Aaju has recently embraced the Inuit culture of tattooing the hands and faces of women—the story of Sedna is tattooed on her hands and fingers.

Aaju Peter was inducted into the Order of Canada by Governor General David Johnston at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. iPolitics/ Matthew Usherwood

Aaju Peter was inducted into the Order of Canada by Governor General David Johnston at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. iPolitics/ Matthew Usherwood

Born in 1960 in Arkisserniaq, a northern Greenlandic community, Aaju has lived up and down the west coast of her native country as a result of her father’s teaching and preaching career. At age eleven, Aaju left Greenland to attend school in Denmark where she learned to read German, French, English, Latin and speak Danish. At age eighteen, she returned home to Greenland. In 1981, Aaju moved to Iqaluit, in Nunavut, Canada where she took up residence and learned English and Inuktitut, which has helped her succeed in her work as an interpreter. She has done volunteer work with various women’s, cultural and interpretation organizations in Nunavut.

In 2005, Aaju graduated from Akitsiraq Law School, and was called to the bar in 2007. Aaju advocates for Inuit rights to seal and sealskin products as well as the Inuit right to be involved in issues related to Arctic waters. In 2011, Aaju became a member of the Order of Canada for her contributions to the preservation and promotion of Inuit culture and language.

A must-see video featuring Aaju Peter on the birth of the Nunavut Territory in 1999: http://www.arcticdefenders.ca/film/trailer.html