Aigah Attagutsiaq was born and raised in Arctic Bay. When she moved about 20 years ago to Ottawa with her children, she began working as an adult educator and counselor and eventually studied to become an ordained Anglican minister. Throughout her life, Aigah has always sewn clothing and craft items out of sealskin and knows well how healing it can be to create and sew things for her family and to sell or give to others. Aigah’s work as the only Inuit Anglican Minister, at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church in Vanier in the City of Ottawa, keeps her extremely busy, but she stills joins Isaruit for conferences and sewing drop ins when she can.
Martha Flaherty, originally from Inukjuak, Nanavik, was moved with her family to Grise Fiord in 1960 in the Federal Northern Quebec Relocation project. A survivor of three residential school stints, Martha has spent many years coming to terms with the colonial force used on her family. Her National Film Board film, “Martha of the North” in which she was co-producer, has had a profound impact on mainstream and Indigenous audiences.
Martha has worked in the area of cultural rentention and with DIAND, as the President of the national Pauktutiit Inuit Women’s Association, Canadian representative to the international Inuit Circumpolar Conference, and still works as a tourism animatrice and interpreter on summer cruise ship tours to the Arctic through Adventure Canada. However, Martha’s primary life’s work is in translation. She is a highly sought after translator and interpreter at the provincial, territorial and federal levels as well as internationally. She has most recently translated into Inuktut the whole Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Commission’s final report, a lengthy and very challenging document. Such trusted translation work has developed in Martha a broad and comprehensive view of Indigenous issues in Canada.
Martha is also a highly sought after Inuk artist, who, having learned to sew at her mother’s knee in iglus and tents on the land, now designs and sews outfits of many kinds, and fabricates accessories and other Inuit art items both for sale and for the joy of creating. Martha has also been involved in “A Taste of the Arctic” annual cultural celebrations in Ottawa, and has organized and participated in several fashion shows over the past 20 years. Martha has lived in the Ottawa area for 40 years, and is the wife, mother and grandmother of an Inuk/Cree/English family.
As Past Chair, Martha continues to bring to ISARUIT her wide network of contacts, many of whom are specific to the arts world; a multitude of both formal and informal, national and international cross-cultural and cross-gender, cross-generational experiences; many, many years as a member of a highly skilled family of sewing artists; and the knowledge and understanding required to supervise the development of an organization from an Inuit standpoint. Martha is highly committed to the welfare of Inuit women living in Ottawa, and actively promotes the speaking of Inuktitut throughout all generations.
Simona Arnatsiaq was born on the land near Igloolik, Nunavut. She has been living in the Ottawa area for more than 20 years, but travels very extensively in the Canadian Arctic and internationally with her work. Simona is a community consultant advisor specializing in economic development and management training in Northern Inuit communities, and in Ottawa. Simona holds a certificate in Cooperatives Development from St. Francis Xavier University and continues to advocate for Inuit self-determination and culturally sound programs at all levels of government.
Simona has been a member of many Boards as a planner, developer and advocate for Inuit, especially Inuit women. Some of organizations she has worked with Nunavut Tourism, Nuanvut Land Claims office, Nunavut Language and Culture Dept, Tunngavik Federation of Nunavut, Iqaluit Community Wellness and Child Protection, Carleton University, the National Parole Board, and the Prime Minister’s Office. Despite her busy schedule, Simona takes time to be a mother and grandmother to her family, and to design and sew imaginative clothing and craft creations. Having learned to sew from her mother and other relatives, Simona’s work reflects her dedication to an Inuit world view and belief systems and her integration with the land and the animals of Inuit Nunanga.
Simona brought to ISARUIT a great deal of experience developing and working on boards of emerging organizations, in an Inuit way, the ability to quickly and accurately assess and evaluate program needs and efficiencies, an excellent sense of fiscal responsibility, and significant experience experience marketing Inuit sewing arts items. Her deep commitment to the Inuit community of Ottawa has compelled her to be committed to making the ISARUIT Inuit Sewing Project successful.