Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

A girl guide at heart

John Thompson
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (June 20/05) - When Ann Hanson was a Girl Guide, she had all the badges.

Consider her recent promotion to the role of Commissioner of Nunavut in April as a natural progression from there.

Born in May 1946 inside a tent on the tiny island of Qakutut, outside Kimmirut, she spent the first 11 years of her life speaking nothing but Inuktitut.

Then she attended school in Iqaluit and everything changed.

She quickly learned English, preparing her for a long career as a translator in different capacities.

This was despite being pulled out of school at one point to help her aunt with housework, which was considered a more appropriate activity for young girls at the time.

When her principal heard what happened, he appeared on her doorstep one day and insisted she be returned to class.

She wants to see more encouragement for children to stay in school today.

"That's when it starts, with our young people," she said.

Among her plans for the future is to introduce a commissioner's badge for Guides and Scouts, to encourage today's youth to educate themselves and become good citizens.

Changes in works

Hanson has other changes planned as she begins her stint as commissioner.

Right now she's busy transforming the commissioner's house into her new office, where she plans to hold open houses for the public regularly.

Rather than globetrot like her predecessor Peter Irniq, she plans to answer requests for her to appear abroad with an invitation for others to visit Nunavut.

She also plans to create a commissioner's award for the arts.

"I don't think it's been looked at by itself," she said.

"We have so many talented people in Nunavut."

She sees the commissioner's awards as an important way of passing traditional Inuit wisdom down from one generation to the next.

"It's a continuation of what was started many generations ago," she said. "And it's going to go on, and on, and on."