December 2020 marked the end of a long career for Mary K. Inukpuk of Inukjuak working for Makivik’s Income Tax Program. She worked for 26 years, although she began her training 30 years ago. Angelo Mannetta, her former supervisor, and currently Makivik’s Director of Finance, described Mary as, “very hardworking, and always there. She dealt with a serious project.”
The income tax program began life as a pilot project in Kangiqsualujjuaq in 1993. Mary was part of it from the beginning and it went on to take care of income tax returns for thousands of Inuit from across Nunavik. It created 20-25 part-time jobs every year for more than two decades. Reached at home in Inukjuak, enjoying retirement, Mary spoke about her years taking care of taxes.
“First time I started training was in 1991, we were only using paper. We were not using computers yet,” she said. “In 1993 the tax people came from Makivik to do all the taxes for the Inukjuakmiut people, and I was helping them. In 1994 there was going to be training for Nunavimmiut people who were interested in training for doing the taxes for their communities. I applied for that. It was a one-month course in Kuujjuaq.”
Mary started working part-time for six years on the project and became full-time in 2000 as the Makivik Tax Coordinator. She said, “I wanted to help people fill out their taxes because if they didn’t fill out their taxes, they would not receive money from the government, such as the child tax benefit, so I tried to help them.” Makivik had tax agents in every community working on the project. Mary would receive returns from across Nunavik, review them and make corrections.
“I had to mail all the papers to Revenue Quebec, and Revenue Canada.” She said it was easier once they were able to use eFile, submitting tax returns electronically via the internet. “I had a lot of help from Shun-Hui Yang who was working at Makivik at the time, when we were doing eFile.”
During the current pandemic, they shut down for two weeks, and when they opened up, they could not receive people at the office in Inukjuak. Her work would keep her busy, even on weekends, during the time around the annual deadline for filing income taxes in early April. She said outside of crunch time she would be able to go fishing on weekends. Mary joked that people still ask her about taxes, but she said she is retired, “no more work for me!” Angelo Mannetta called her last December, before she retired, thanking her for years of dedication on behalf of Inuit.
“She’s a remarkable woman. She was an unsung hero.”