News releases

June 14, 2022

Posted in News Releases

Canada Post unveils new stamp honouring Inuit leader Jose Kusugak

Considered a Father of Confederation for his role in the efforts that led to the creation of Nunavut

June 14, 2022

Posted in News Releases

This news release is also available to read in Inuktut (click here).

RANKIN INLET, NUNAVUT – At an event today in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Canada Post unveiled a new commemorative stamp recognizing the accomplishments of Jose Kusugak. An Inuit activist, linguist and award-winning broadcaster, Kusugak played a critical role in efforts that led to the creation of Nunavut in 1999, for which many consider him a Father of Confederation.

This is one of three stamps that will officially be released on June 21 – National Indigenous Peoples Day – in recognition of the contributions each Indigenous leader has made to the communities they have served.

About Jose Kusugak (1950-2011)

Born in Repulse Bay, Northwest Territories (now Naujaat, Nunavut), Jose Kusugak dedicated his life to raising awareness of Inuit identity and issues. He coined the phrase “First Canaadians, Canadians First” to describe the place of his people within Canada.

A survivor of the residential school system, Kusugak began his own career as a teacher. He worked at the University of Saskatchewan’s Eskimo Language School and the Churchill Vocational Centre in Manitoba, where he taught Inuktitut and Inuit history and later served as a cultural and linguistic adviser. As head of the Inuit Language Commission in the 1970s, he was involved in developing a standardized, dual writing system for Inuktitut, using Roman orthography and syllabics.

In 1971, he joined the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (ITC), where his natural abilities as a communicator helped in his efforts to disseminate and explain the concept of land claims to Inuit communities. To further spread the land claims message across the Arctic, Kusugak joined CBC North in 1980 as area manager for the Kivalliq region. After 10 years with CBC, he joined the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation, introducing new areas of programming in Inuktitut.

From 1994 to 2000, Kusugak was president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. The organization played a pivotal role in negotiating the land claim that created Nunavut, which became a territory on April 1, 1999.

In 2000, he was elected president of the ITC, whose name was subsequently changed to the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), which means “Inuit are united in Canada.” After leaving the ITK in 2006, Kusugak continued to work in regional politics, negotiating on behalf of the Inuit on a variety of important issues.

About the Indigenous Leaders stamp series

This stamp set is the inaugural release of Canada Post’s new multi-year Indigenous Leaders series.

On June 21 – National Indigenous Peoples Day – Canada Post will issue three stamps in honour of Indigenous leaders Harry Daniels, Chief Marie-Anne Day Walker-Pelletier and Jose Kusugak.

The two other stamp unveiling events held this week:

  • On June 13, the stamp honouring Harry Daniels was unveiled at an event in Regina.
  • On June 15, the stamp commemorating Chief Marie-Anne Day Walker-Pelletier will be unveiled at an event in Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan.

Here are links to find images of the stamp and other products, our Details magazine and other resources:

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For more information:

Media Relations