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Retiring from the Mounties
RCMP Sgt. Jimmy Akavak will retire this summer after nearly 30 years of service

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, June 28, 2012

It will be a retirement from the RCMP but not from work. Sgt. Jimmy Akavak, an Inuit Mountie who has risen through the ranks and been a spokesman for the force in Nunavut, will retire on Aug. 8 with approximately 28 years of service.

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RCMP Sgt. Jimmy Akavak, seen here in Iqaluit when he gained that rank in May 2007, is set to retire this year. - photo courtesy of RCMP Sgt. Jimmy Akavak

The 47-year-old said he has no major retirement plans, is not moving, but will be taking some time off. He added he is also exploring a couple of job opportunities but nothing is committed yet.

"It has been ... a very good career. Met lots of people, really good people," he said. "I have no regrets. I would do it again knowing what I know now."

Throughout his career, Akavak worked in the federal enforcement, drug awareness and community policing, not to mention patrolling the streets and helping to protect visiting prime ministers and the Queen.

His favourite assignment at the RCMP was doing shift work those busy Friday nights.

"The adrenaline, I guess, getting to calls and fights, stopping fights. Night shifts was one of my favourites until you had to do the paperwork," he said. "As you get older, in service or older physically, mentally, you want to be out of that calling, attending to drunken people, fights. After about 10 or 12 years, you're almost sick of (patrolling) that scene."

He added he stopped doing shift work three years ago.

Born in Iqaluit, raised in Kimmirut and Pangnirtung, Akavak attended high school in Iqaluit before joining the RCMP upon graduation. His career choice was inspired by a policeman who had visited his classroom in April 1984. Akavak gave policing a try, not realizing the amount of work especially paperwork that is required. He was sworn in as a special constable Oct. 31, 1984, and worked in Iqaluit, with two years spent in Cape Dorset. In June 1990, he joined as regular member and worked in Iqaluit and Yellowknife. Akavak was promoted to corporal in 2001, then to sergeant in May 2007, the first Inuk to reach that rank.

He and his wife Mary have been married 26 years and have three adult daughters. He said the support from his wife and family is what helped him through the years.

Negotiating with barricaded people or interviewing suspects for violent crimes was puts a lot of strain on a person, he said.

"In some way, I've seen the devil's work; seen the horrendous things human can go through, murders and unhappiness. In some cases, if you try and make sense of it, it will drive you crazy."

As an Inuit policeman, Akavak said he was between two worlds working among his people while teaching those coming from the south about the North.

"The first five years of my service, I struggled with that. Very stressful but at the same time, very rewarding."

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