The program aims to strengthen the participation of northerners in shaping policies governing the Canadian Arctic. Her appointment was announced today by Thomas S. Axworthy, President and CEO of the Gordon Foundation.

"Mrs. Karetak-Lindell brings the unique combination of extensive knowledge about the Canadian north, significant experience shaping public policy at the federal, territorial and local levels and a firm commitment to advanced education in the North," said Mr. Axworthy. "Nancy's contribution will strengthen and develop the Gordon Foundation's vision for the Arctic Voices Fellowships. Her experience and approach make her the ideal choice to lead the program."

The Fellowships will provide financial, educational, mentoring, and networking support to challenge and encourage Canadians from the north, ages 25-35, to become engaged in shaping public policy. The program provides funding for 12 northern participants to give them the opportunity to research and develop public policy ideas at a time of great change in the North. Each participant will be awarded $25,000 spanning 2 years to help them engage in projects and to learn how to develop policies that reflect their knowledge of northern culture and values. The search for candidates begins in the Spring 2010. The J.M. Kaplan Fund, a family foundation based in New York, is helping fund this initiative.

"We say that young adults are our future but we don't give them enough room to experience leadership roles," said Nancy Karetak-Lindell. "This program gives them an opportunity to challenge themselves and gain experience to become effective decision-makers and community-builders."

Nancy Karetak-Lindell distinguished herself as the first Member of Parliament for Nunavut for four consecutive terms from 1997 to 2008, travelling and working with people across the Canadian north and south. It took her three years to visit all 25 remote communities across the vast area of her constituency. She has travelled in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Labrador and Nunavik in northern Quebec, as well as all the other Canadian provinces.

Nancy, one of ten children, is the daughter of Johnny and Rhoda Karetak, and was born in the Inuit community of Arviat, Nunavut (formerly Eskimo Point, NWT). Her upbringing is influenced by the culture and values of the north and the south and she has retained her fluency in Inuktitut. She was sent to residential school in Yellowknife and attended high school in Ottawa. After spending seven years away from the north, she returned home and became deeply involved in her community.

In Arviat, Nancy worked as a financial comptroller, was elected as a municipal councillor, served on the Education Council, and was appointed to the Board of Nunavut Arctic College. As an MP she served as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources in 2003. Throughout her parliamentary career she sat on the Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources Committee as Vice-Chair and Chair. She served on other Committees with special relevance to the North including Fisheries and Oceans and Environment and Sustainable Development. She also served on the Child Custody and Access, Canadian Heritage, and Status of Women Committees.

Nancy Karetak-Lindell

Photo credit: Inuksuk Tagalik

The Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation was established in 1965 as a private charitable foundation. One of the major programming areas is the Canadian North. The mandate is to support research and education projects that enhance Northern peoples' ability to participate in and help shape public policy at any level - lo