JULY 10, 1997


Born January 12, 1928, in the Mackenzie Delta area, Northwest Territories (NWT), Okpik, whose name meant “Man With A Mole,” was raised traditionally.  An avid reader, he skipped grades 2, 4 and 5.  Starting in 1957, Okpik worked as a government translator.  Learning the writing system used in the Eastern Arctic, he started translating publications into the Inuit language.  In 1965, he became the first Inuk to sit on the NWT Council (NTC) where he led NTC’s Project Surname—an effort to register Canadian Inuit under last names.  In 1971, moving to the Eastern Arctic, he was a school administrator, taught Inuktitut, and helped create the simplified Inuktitut writing system adopted in 1974.  In mid-1970s, he was an official interpreter and CBC linguistic reporter during the Berger Commission into the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline.  He was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1976 for his work with the Berger Commission and Project Surname.   

Source:  Michelle Filice, “Abraham Okpik,” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2/16/2016.  Retrieved 7/5/2019, https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/abraham-okpik
Photo:  Charles Gimpel (1913-1973), 4/1964.  Copyright assigned to Library and Archives Canada (L&AC) by copyright owner Kay Gimpel.  Information on the L&AC website has been posted with the intent that it be readily available for personal and public non-commercial use and may be reproduced, in part or in whole and by any means, without charge or further permission from L&AC subject to certain conditions.  See  https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/Pages/terms-and-conditions.aspx#b The use on this site meets those conditions.  Further justification provided upon request.  Source: https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/inuit/020018-1040-e.html

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