Kanguq - Hiver/ᐅᑭᐅᖅ/ Winter 2016 - Page 9

T he Ilagiisaq bids adieux to one of the greatest friends it has ever known. Peter Murdoch, ally and servant of the Inuit of Nunavik, passed away peacefully December 9. Peter Murdoch was born September 3rd, 1929 in St. John’s, Newfoundland. His first venture to the north, from 1947 to 1957, began as a trading clerk and a manager for the Hudson’s Bay Company, bringing him to the Inuit communities of Kimmirut (Lake Harbour), Pangnirtung, Kinngait (Cape Dorset), Kuujjuaq, Kangiqsualujjuaq, Kangirsuk, Kangiqtugaapik (Clyde River), Mitsimatalik (Pond Inlet) and, finally, to Puvirnituq where he arrived with his wife Lucille in 1955. His lifelong relationship with the Inuit was sealed as his knowledge of the Inuit, their culture and their language flourished during this period. His northern career continued when the Federal Government hired him in 1958 to look into low cost housing solutions for Inuit as well as to assist in setting up the community of Rankin Inlet for inland Inuit who had been relocated there. The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development employed him from 1964 to 1966 as a Regional Administrator overseeing government services based out of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, where he lived with his young family. An adventure he enjoyed very much was in 1966 recording a series of radio broadcasts with Farley Mowat for CBC Northern Service in Northern Quebec, Baffin Island, and Western Arctic. It was during this trip that the directors of the Puvirnituq Cooperative Association, and Alasie Alasuak, and Father André Steinmann asked Peter to help them set up a cooperative federation for the then existing cooperatives of Northern Quebec. With the support and expertise of the Conseil de la coopération du Québec (CCQ), Peter set out to establish the Fédération des coopératives du Nouveau-Québec with several Inuit and Cree from the five cooperatives of Kangiqsualujjuaq, Puvirnituq, Kuujjuaq, Kuujjuaraapik and Kangirsuk. His intimate knowledge of their culture and respect for the Inuit earned him their respect as he taught them about cooperatives and helped the other Inuit communities to build their co-ops. With Lucille his wife, he helped develop the terminology of modern business transactions in Inuktitut so that co-op directors and managers, even without formal education in English, became able to run their cooperatives. Those he worked with at the FCNQ regarded Peter as friend, mentor, confidante, advisor and father figure. He taught Inuktitut to many and his person-to-person style endeared him to his colleagues. He retired from Ilagiisaaq in 1997 after 30 years as General Manager, but remained active all his life. Peter believed that Inuit could stand on their own feet but needed the support of a federation. The philosophy he put into practice was Working together to develop as a people, leaving none behind. The success of the cooperative movement in Nunavik is due to his dedication over the 50 years of life working with the Inuit. President Aliva Tulugak recalled Peter’s own story of how he had fibbed about his age because he would have been underage to work, but it was necessary because of hard times in Newfoundland. Aliva Tulugak said, “It was first in Kimmirut that he learned of the Inuit, their values and philosophy. He said he had not had a teacher in life, but the Inuit showed him how they loved their fellow Inuit, so when Tommy Manning’s mother made him winter clothing of caribou fur he was amazed. The lessons he learned among the Inuit in those early days served him well, for they became the foundation of his life’s work. Peter not only worked for economic development in Nunavik, but he cared for the Inuit and he and his family really contributed to the betterment of our lives in Nunavik. Rest in peace, our Ilannaaq Peter.” On behalf of her family, his wife Lucille states, “We share our sadness with those he touched and console ourselves in the knowledge that Peter leaves behind a family united, a thriving Federation and the people stronger for having grown with him.” Peter Murdoch received awards of recognition for his life’s work, notably the 4th degree of the Ordre du Mérite from the Conseil québécois de la coopération et de la mutualité in 2003 and the Order of Canada in 2015. A memorial service for Peter Murdoch will be held in Puvirnituq Quebec, at a later date in the new year. n ᐅᑭᐅᖅ 2016 vᖑᖅ 7