Mary Simon: “three steps forward and two steps back”

Mary Simon spoke with the Globe and Mail’s Gloria Galloway about her decision not to seek a third term as President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. In the interview, Simon talks about her time as President, her childhood, and the relationship between Inuit and the rest of Canada.

“There has never been a day when I didn’t like my job,” she said during a recent interview in her office in downtown Ottawa.


But Ms. Simon, 64, has told The Globe and Mail she will not seek a third term when the ITK, which represents Inuit in 53 communities in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Northern   Quebec and Labrador, holds its presidential election in early June.


As she ponders the road forward, Ms. Simon knows much needs to be done.

The progress made by the Inuit over the six years she has led their national organization has been “three steps forward and two steps back,” Ms. Simon said.

Deeply entrenched social problems remain. The incidence of diabetes, obesity and heart disease among the Inuit is unacceptably high. Suicide rates are 11 times the national average. And just 25 per cent of Inuit teenagers graduate from high school.

Simon has served as President of ITK since 2006. Prior to that she worked as a journalist with the CBC’s Northern Service, served as Canada’s first Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs, and was a lead negotiator in the creation of the Arctic Council. 
She left this note on her blog this morning:

After six years as President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, I have decided that I will not seek a third term.

I am grateful to the Inuit of Canada for giving me the opportunity to represent them at a time when Arctic issues have gained great prominence domestically, and at the international level.

I don’t see this as “retirement,” but as an opportunity to reconnect with my family, spend more time with my grandchildren and turn my focus to the issues that I feel most strongly about: education and mental health.

Photo credit: Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

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