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Paul Okalik, MLA (Inuktitut syllabics: ᐹᓪ ᐅᑲᓕᖅ, ) is a Canadianmarker politician. He was the first Premier of the Canadian territory of Nunavutmarker, and continues to represent the electoral district of Iqaluit West in the Legislative Assembly of Nunavutmarker.

Okalik was born on May 26, 1964, in Pangnirtung, Northwest Territories marker. In the early 1980s, he worked for the Tunngavik Federation of Nunavut, as a deputy negotiator on the land claim which eventually created Nunavut. That claim, the largest in Canadian history, was signed in 1993. Okalik also served as a representative on the Nunavut Implementation Panel, the body which oversees and provides direction on the implementation of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

Early life

He obtained a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Political Science at Carleton Universitymarker in Ottawa, and a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) from the University of Ottawamarker. In 1999 he was called to the Bar, becoming the first Inuk lawyer in NWT/Nunavut history. It was his "dream was to help his people in their dealings with the Canadian justice system."

Political life

On February 15, 1999, Okalik was elected to represent Iqaluit West in the first Legislative Assembly of Nunavut. Nunavut's government runs on a consensus model, with the assembly choosing the premier from among its elected members, and on March 5, Okalik was voted the first Premier of Nunavut.

He stood for reelection in the 2004 general election, and was returned to the Legislative Assembly. On March 5, 2004, the Legislative Assembly again selected him premier over challenger Tagak Curley, making Okalik the first territorial premier in Canadian history to serve two consecutive terms. As of 2007, Okalik was the longest-serving premier in Canada.

One of Okalik's primary goals as premier of Nunavut was to make the territory economically self-sufficient, as currently 90% of their budget comes from the federal government. Despite this, Okalik continues to have great hopes in the territory and believes that Nunavut has great economic potential. He cites resources such as diamonds, and also Inuit art and tourism as potential sources of income for the territory.

On November 14, 2008, Okalik was defeated by Eva Aariak in his bid for re-election to the premiership.


During the last week of June 2007, Okalik made derogatory comments about Lynda Gunn, CEO of the Nunavut Association of Municipalities, reportedly calling her a "fucking bitch". The remarks, which the Premier later apologised for, were made to Iqaluitmarker mayor Elisapee Sheutiapik while they were attending a dinner in Goose Baymarker during the Expo Labrador trade conference.

Although Okalik apologised, both publicly and in private, Gunn refused to accept it and called on the Premier to resign, and both Sheutiapik and Gunn wrote letters of condemnation. On July 5 Tagak Curley, MLAmarker for Rankin Inlet North, called on the Premier to resign. Curley, who had challenged Okalik for the Premiership, also asked that Peter Kilabuk recall the Legislative Assembly so they could deal with the matter.

On September 17, 2007, all MLAs present at a meeting of the Legislative Assembly voted to censure Okalik. Okalik himself abstained from voting, but asked his fellow MLAs to censure him as a formal recognition of his mistake. However, Tagak Curley has continued to insist that Okalik resign, as "the public trust needed, and the confidence needed from the public about this government and this assembly" has not been regained since his comments.

Sheutiapik challenged Okalik for the Iqaluit West seat in the 2008 election, in which Okalik was re-elected.

In November 2009, a report by Nunavut Integrity Commissioner Norman Pickell declared that Okalik violated the territory's Integrity Act by soliciting campaign donations from deputy ministers, whom the premier appoints, while he was still premier. The report recommended that if Okalik does not apologize, he be suspended from the legislature. In response, Okalik described the report as "nothing to me."

Personal life

On June 18, 2005, Okalik received from Carleton University an honorary doctor of laws degree.

Okalik has three children, Shasta, Jordan and Béatrice.

His name, under the older spelling system, entirely in English would be Paul Rabbit, however in the newer spelling it would be rendered ukaliq.

See also


  1. Tunngasugitti – welcome to Nunavut
  2. Gary Doer's biography
  3. Premier's Message
  4. Okalik biography
  5. "Nunavut names new premier", The Globe and Mail, November 14, 2008.
  6. Nunavut premier taken to task over foul language
  7. CEO refuses Nunavut premier's apology for 'verbal attack'
  8. Nunavut MLA calls for premier's resignation over comments
  9. Nunavut MLA presses for premier's resignation after censure. CBC News
  10. Iqaluit mayor sets sights on premier's seat
  11. Nunavut ex-premier violated Integrity Act: report. CBC News. November 27, 2009.

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