Early Life and Education
Helen Mamayaok Maksagak, of
mainland — a
region that would eventually become part of . She spent her childhood in Tuktoyaktuk and Aklavik in the
Northwest Territories. Maksagak
also completed her there, graduating from grade eight before
transitioning to a community service role, where she advocated for
environmental protections and family services.
She married John Maksagak in 1950. The couple lived in and started a family. In
1961 they moved to , where
they raised six children and established their home as a refuge for victims of domestic
Prior to her tenure as a
public servant in 1992, Maksagak held various community and advocacy positions throughout
the 1960s and 1970s. For example, she was employed by the
Helen Mamayaok Maksagak became
went on to act as the commissioner of the Northwest Territories until 1999, and
in March of the same year she was selected as the commissioner of Nunavut — Canada’s
newest territory. She held this position until March 2000, at which time she
left this role, but continued to advocate for the of people, serving on various
committees and remaining an active voice for her people.
During the duration of her
political career and advocacy work, public policy and legislative reform in the
(See also .) After leaving her position
as commissioner, Maksagak served on the Nunavut Status of Women Council from
2001 until 2003, and as an elder on the Board of Directors for the Aboriginal
Healing Foundation from 2004 to 2008.
returned to a formal political role in November 2005, when she was appointed deputy
commissioner of Nunavut. When
she left office, , who was of Canada at the time,
said that Maksagak would be remembered for her enormous contributions to the
people of the Arctic and the history of Canada.
Awards and Honours
of Law, University College of Cape Breton (now ), (2000).