Inuit special constables monument unveiled in Iqaluit

From left: Qikiqtani Inuit Association president Olayuk Akesuk, RCMP Chief Supt. Amanda Jones and artist Looty Pijamini stand in front of the monument commemorating Inuit special constables and their qimmiit. (Photo by David Lochead)

From left: Qikiqtani Inuit Association president Olayuk Akesuk, RCMP Chief Supt. Amanda Jones and artist Looty Pijamini stand in front of the monument commemorating Inuit special constables and their qimmiit. (Photo by David Lochead)

Monument dedicated to role Inuit played in helping RCMP survive in the Arctic –

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NEWS DEC 2, 2021 – 5:31 PM EST

By David Lochead

A monument commemorating the role Inuit special constables and their families played with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was unveiled in front of the force’s Iqaluit headquarters on Thursday.

The carving depicts Inuit special constable harnessing his qimmiit, an Inuit sled dog.

“It makes me want to cry,” Chief Supt. Amanda Jones, the commander of the RCMP’s Nunavut division. said of the ceremony.

Around 100 people attended, including a significant number of RCMP officers as well as politicians, including Premier P.J. Akeeagok and Senator Dennis Patterson.

This monument was made as part of the third recommendation in the Qikiqtani Truth Commission, which called on the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and the RCMP should recognize the importance of Inuit special constables and their families to the work of the RCMP.

The commission was an inquiry established by QIA that documented the damaging actions and policies of the Canadian government and RCMP against Inuit in the Arctic from 1950 to 1975. One of the notable acts by RCMP was killing qimmiit, which deprived Inuit of their ability to travel.

“It destroyed a lifestyle,” Jones said, acknowledging the RCMP’s role in that chapter of history.

Special constables were Inuit who helped RCMP officers operate and survive in the North from 1936 until at least 1970, according to the Qikiqtani Truth Commission. They served as translators, taught RCMP officers how to travel by dogsled and helped them survive in the North by acts such as making an igloos when travelling.

QIA President Olayuk Akesuk said this ceremony was the result of the work done by QIA in establishing the Qikiqtani Truth Commission in 2007.

“It is a great day for us to start our vision going forward in Baffin and throughout Nunavut,” Akesuk said.

Akesuk said he wants to see continued work on improving the relationship between RCMP and Inuit.

The monument of a special constable harnessing a qimmiit. Pijamini said the motivation for this design was how often he and his father harnessed their sled dogs. (Photo by David Lochead) Le monument d’un gendarme spécial harnachant un qimmiit. Pijamini a déclaré que la motivation pour ce design était la fréquence à laquelle lui et son père attelaient leurs chiens de traîneau. (Photo de David Lochead)

“It’s extremely important that we recognize our special constables because without them the RCMP wouldn’t be here in the Arctic,” Jones said.

She added that this monument has been worked on for the last two years.

Last year, former MLAs David Qamaniq and Emiliano Qirngnuq called for special constables’ roles to return to the RCMP, as smaller communities can be as much as 95 per cent Inuit.

Jones said the RCMP is looking at special or community constables options for the future, but that decision is not her organization’s alone.

“That’s something we have to discuss with the Government of Nunavut on how they want their policing to look like in their communities,” Jones said.

The carvers of the sculpture are well-known Inuit artists Looty Pijamini and Paul Malliki. Pijamini has had his work shown internationally while Malliki has made carvings for former prime ministers Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien.

Pijamini, 68, said the motivation for carving this sculpture was how often he and his father harnessed sled dogs for patrols or hunts when he was around 13.

He added that he is relieved the monument is complete.

“I feel great.”


  1. Robert S Pilot says:

    I served in the High Arctic during the early 1950’s and Special Constables were highly respected and reliable. There is no doubt they saved many from harms way, myself included. A monument to their service is long overdue.

  2. J. D. Don A. Le Comte says:

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised about the actions of the government in this, another example of the mistreatment of aboriginal people. As a 3rd year history student at U. of R. and specializing in Canadian History it is just further evidence of the government’s civilization and assimilation programs of our native peoples. I was proud to serve in the Force form 1962 to 1983 and was happy to be made aware of the unveiling of this appropriate and iconic monument. Collectively, we as Canadians have a lot to be sorry for in our treatment of First Nations but through knowledge and awareness we can overcome the mistakes of our founders.

    • Keith Leishman says:

      You wouldn’t have been stationed in North Vancouver Det. in the early 60’s would you?
      Keith Leishman

  3. P Poetker says:


  4. Phil Pitts says:

    What a wonderful monument to recognize the work and contribution our Inuit Special Constables to keeping our northern communities safe. Having served in Clyde River in the late 70s I can attest to the dedication and personal qualities of Special Constable Moosa Akavak who I had the pleasure and honour to work with!

  5. I am a retired S/Sgt who joined the Force in January, 1961. I am a product of the RCMP and their community efforts. One on the young Aboriginal Csts. I recruited is now a retired former Commanding Officer of Nunavut and Assistant Commissioner. These positive stories makes me feel younger than my 80 yrs.
    Dennis Schneider

  6. William K. Hillier says:

    Retiring with 48+ years, I have seen how the Special Constable program helped the RCMP integrate into our communities that we service. It is imperative that we consideration be given to maintaining this program and stay a part of these all these remote communities in Canada.

  7. Shelley Sanford says:

    So wonderful to share in this wonderful acknowledgement to those who have served in this unique area. Peace to you all.

  8. Charles Woods says:

    This is excellent. To see two different groups working together to establish a Common purpose is what we must continue now and in the future

  9. David Neville says:

    As a former member it is Imperative that we try and make the future with all segments of Canadian society more inclusive and just. We are not above our communities. We are a small part that has been given huge responsibility.

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