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No limits on bravery

Commissioner awards recognize extraordinary citizens

Chris Puglia
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (Aug 13/03) - You can't put a limit on heroism. But, for a time, the commissioners awards for bravery under the NWT regulations did have a limit.

After 10 years a person was no longer eligible to be recognized for their heroic acts.

On April 1, 2000 when Peter Irniq office as commissioner of Nunavut, that all changed.

"When I was invested as commissioner of Nunavut I asked the people of Nunavut to help me shape the office," said Irniq.

He said that in consultation with many Nunavummiut he heard loud and clear that they did not believe there should be a statute of limitations on the bravery award.

It was felt by many that a heroic act cannot merely expire over time and those feats are everlasting.

"Many Inuit said, lets not have limits. Many things I do, is to do things, most of the time, the Inuit way," said Irniq.

Keeping with that tradition, citizens of Nunavut have been recognized for their heroics dating back over 60 years.

These people would never have been officially recognized under the old laws.

"I recognize people at their recommendation, going back to the 1940s.

"I see it as something very important for people to see their fellow community members recognized at the highest level in Nunavut," said Irniq.

The latest series of awards were handed out in Coral Harbour.

Twenty-one people in Coral were honoured for bravery dating back to the 1940s.

One hero was only two years old at the time of her heroic act.

Chelsea Kadlak saved the life of a friend who was trapped and couldn't breathe by informing her mother of the situation.

Heroism isn't the only award given out by the commissioner.

Awards also recognize youth and volunteer achievement and special skills.

Each award is given to people who have been nominated by two or more of their peers.

The nominations, which are given to the commissioner, must include a letter of recommendation and supporting evidence to the person's accomplishments.

"They are all important to recognize people for what they do for their communities or Nunavut," said Irniq.