Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK)

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (formerly known as the Eskimo Brotherhood of Canada) is a national advocacy organization that promotes awareness about political, social, cultural and environmental issues that impact Inuit communities, from the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Northwest Territories, to Nunavut, Nunavik in Northern Québec, Nunatsiavut in Northern Labrador and land claims regions.


Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) was founded in 1971 as the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (ITC). The ITC was created by an organizing committee of Inuit who decided it was time to speak with a united voice on various issues concerning development of the Canadian North and the preservation of Inuit culture. Headquarters were first established in Edmonton, but in 1972 the offices were moved to Ottawa. In 2001, the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (Tapirisat, meaning “brotherhood” in English) was renamed the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

By 2019, the ITK represented over 65,000 Inuit in 51 communities in Inuit Nunangut, the Inuit homeland that includes the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (Northwest Territories), Nunavut, Nunavik (Northern Québec) and Nunatsiavut (Northern Labrador). Additionally, there are nine regional associations: the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (Baffin Region) (see also Baffin Island Inuit); Government of Nunatsiavut; Kivalliq Inuit Association; Kitikmeot Inuit Association; Inuvialuit Regional Corporation; Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada; Makivik Corporation; Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.; and National Inuit Youth Council.

Governance Structure

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is governed by a board of directors and president. Delegates to the ITK Annual General Assembly elect the president for a three-year term. Other members of the board include elected representatives of the four regional land claims organizations – Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Makivik Corporation, Nunatsiavut Government and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, as well as the presidents of the National Inuit Youth Council, Pauktuuit Inuit Women of Canada and the Inuit Circumpolar Council (Canada) (ICC). The ICC president is also the ITK vice-president. Non-voting board members are the presidents from the National Inuit Youth Council and Pauktuuit Inuit Women of Canada.

In 2015, Natan Obed was elected president of the ITK. He was elected to a second term in August 2018.

Natan Obed, president of ITK, 2016 (Courtesy of Wikimedia CC BY-SA 2.0).


The organization's first annual conference was held in Pangnirtung in 1972. Since its inception, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami has advocated to:

  • Preserve and promote Inuit language, culture and heritage
  • Provide a focal point for determining the needs and wishes of all Inuit
  • Represent Inuit on matters affecting their well-being
  • Improve communications to and between Inuit communities
  • Entrench the inherent right of self-government of Aboriginal peoples in the Constitution of Canada
  • Guarantee and safeguard basic human rights in all aspects of Inuit life
  • Protect the environment
  • Facilitate economic planning and development enabling Inuit participation, control and self-sufficiency
  • Address health and social issues
  • Seek protections for the civil, political, economic, cultural and social rights of the Inuit through international human rights instruments, particularly the right to self-determination.
Mary Simon
Former President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Mary Simon, 2011.


Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is a non-profit organization. Its original funding in 1971 was provided by the Department of the Secretary of State. With increased federal funding, the organization has established many research projects. One of the first projects was a study on land use and occupancy in the Northwest Territories (1974–75) and Labrador (1975–76). This land use research resulted in the publication Our Footprints are Everywhere, which utilized maps to illustrate past and present land use in the North and described seasonal patterns of northern animals.


Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami publishes Inuktitut, Canada's longest-publishing Inuktitut-language periodical, produced by ITK affiliate, the Labrador Inuit Association. Inuktitut was first published in 1959. Today the magazine is available in Inuktitut syllabics, Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, English and French, and has a circulation of 15,000.

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