Putulik Papigatuk, a tireless advocate for Inuit rights in Nunavik, died in his hometown of Salluit in early August.
A community leader, he was born in an igloo, and lived his entire life in Salluit, formerly known as Sugluk. He was 69. Putulik attended the Federal Day School in Sugluk until Grade 5, and then attended Residential School in Churchill, Manitoba, from 1965-66. From 1969 to 1973 he worked for the Falconbridge Nickel Mine and Asbestos Corporation. But it was as a Northern Quebec Inuit Association board member during the 1975 James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement negotiations that he made his greatest mark on Nunavik history.
“Putulik was an important figure in the development of today’s Nunavik,” said Pita Aatami, President of Makivik Corporation. “The JBNQA was the first comprehensive land claim agreement signed in modern times and could not have been realized without the leadership of the Northern Quebec Inuit Association, of which Putulik was a member. The agreement ultimately led to the 1978 creation of Makivik to administer the funds from the JBNQA. Putulik’s role and contribution was invaluable. We will miss him very much and we send our heartfelt condolences to his family.”
In recognition for his important role in the development of the JBNQA, he and his fellow signatories were awarded the Order of Nunavik in 2015. Putulik Papigatuk was also a member of the negotiating team for the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement (NILCA).