Tireless Fighter for His People

PUBLIC LIFE HERO: PITA AATAMI  In his Montreal office, Pita Aatami shows me the ivory polar bear head he wears on a black, leather shoelace around his neck. He carved it from a walrus tusk, but, he says ruefully, I stopped carving when I became president. He played hockey, too, but I don't have time anymore.

Aatami, 47, is the president of Makivik Corporation, a position  elected by Inuit residents of Nunavik created to administer funds given to the Inuit by the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement of 1975, which opened up hydro development in the region. His ascent to the upper rungs of leadership in Nunavik—the mostly-Inuit northern third of Quebec—has denied him any kind of balanced life. But he still occasionally gets to hunt and fish and, best of all, he loves his job—helping Nunavik's 10,000 Inuit to successfully marry their traditional, semi-nomadic lifestyle with that of the outside world.

Read this Ron Starr article on the Reader's Digest website.

  • January 28, 2008
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The Nunavik negotiating team