(Josie) Okalik Eegeesiak was elected Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) in July 2014. ICC represents the international interests of Inuit in Canada, Greenland, Chukotka (Russia) and Alaska (USA).
Ms. Eegeesiak was President of Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) from 2008-2014. QIA represents approximately 14,000 Inuit in 13 communities of the Qikiqtani Region. QIA’s mandate includes to protect, preserve, and promote Inuit rights, interests, and aspirations.
Prior to taking over the presidency of the QIA, Eegeesiak was self-employed focussing on human resource and community development. Her background includes representing the Inuit community in various capacities through government and non-government organizations at the international, national, territorial and community level through boards and committees, such as:
- Appointed Chair of Nunasi Corporation in 2013. NC is an Inuit-company owned by the three Regional Inuit Associations and Development Corporations in Nunavut.
- Appointed Chair of Larga Baffin. Larga is a medical boarding home for Inuit sent to Ottawa, Ontario.
- Chair of the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation from 2007 to 2010 that produces Inuktitut television programming for Inuit by Inuit;
- Appointed to the Nunavut Planning Commission in October 2009 –2012 – an Institution of Public Government/Co-Management Board created under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement to develop and manage the Nunavut Land Use Plan;
- President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami from 1996 to 1999 representing, nationally, Inuit rights, interests and aspirations;
- Vice-President of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference Canada from 1996 to 1999 representing, internationally, Inuit rights, interests and aspirations;
- Appointed federal member of the National Pathways Structural Review which recommended and led to enhanced partnerships between aboriginal peoples and the federal government in human resource programs and services; and
- Community, territorial, and national Inuit representative to the National Aboriginal Management Board advocating for community needs and priorities in training and employment
Ms. Eegeesiak is fluent in written and oral Inuktitut, and was born, raised, and schooled in Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut. Okalik attended post-secondary institutions such as Nunavut Arctic College and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. She has one daughter and two grandchildren. She is the oldest of ten with five sisters and four brothers and her mother, Seemeega, an active member of the elders centre in Iqaluit.