Early Life and Education
Hanson spent the first years of her life in Qakutut and Kimmirut, on Baffin Island in what was then the Northwest Territories. She attended schools in Iqaluit, Baker Lake (Qamanittuaq or Qamani’tuaq) and Toronto (where she was known as Annie Cotterill), adding English as her second language (Inuktitut was her first).
She studied community development at the Coady International Institute (St. Francis Xavier University) in the 1970s, earning a diploma in 1975. Two years later, she participated in a special course on the Arctic Environment run by the University of Windsor at Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit). Between 1987 and 1992, while she was deputy commissioner of the Northwest Territories, she studied journalism and received a diploma in a certificate program from the Nunavut Arctic College.
Hanson began her career in the public service in 1964, when she joined the federal government as a secretary and interpreter/translator in the office of Eugène (Gene) Rhéaume, Member of Parliament for the riding of Northwest Territories (now Nunavut). She also served as the Northwest Territories’ deputy commissioner from 1987 to 1992.
From 2005 to 2010, Hanson served as the third commissioner of Nunavut, replacing former commissioner Peter Irniq. In that role, she continued to pursue her philanthropic work and authorship in addition to her duties as the Queen’s representative in Nunavut.
Writing and Editing
Hanson was the first editor of the community newspaper Inukshuk (currently the Nunatsiaq News), founded in 1973.
In 1991, she wrote Show Me: A Young Inuk Learns How To Carve in Canada’s Arctic, a book that was published in both Inuktitut and English.
Hanson is a donor to the Coady International Institute. Her family company also supports the Nunavut Media Arts Centre.
Broadcasting and Film
In the mid-1960s, Hanson joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, working first as a receptionist and then as an announcer and producer in Inuktitut broadcasting.
In 1991, she narrated Starting Fire with Gunpowder, a film that explores the creation and importance of the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation (see Communications in the North; Communications of Indigenous People).
Hanson is a mother to five daughters. She resides in Iqaluit with her husband, Robert Hanson.