|Prime Minister Jean Chretien|
Preceded by Daniel L. Norris
Premier Paul Okalik
Name Helen Maksagak
|Succeeded by Peter Irniq|
Role Canadian Politician
Prime Minister Jean Chretien
Residence Cambridge Bay, Canada
|Premier Nellie J. Cournoyea
Died January 23, 2009, Cambridge Bay, Canada
Helen Mamayaok Maksagak, CM (April 15, 1931 – January 23, 2009) was a Canadian politician. She served as the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories (Canada) from January 16, 1995 until March 26, 1999 and as the Commissioner of Nunavut from April 1, 1999 until April 1, 2000. She is a notable Copper Inuk.
Born on the land near Bernard Harbour in the Canadian Western Arctic, Maksagak was raised in Tuktoyaktuk, Aklavik and the Bathurst Inlet area and eventually settled in Cambridge Bay to raise a family of six surviving children with her husband John Sr. Together they were stalwart supporters of the growing indigenous rights movement in the Canadian north. Their home was often a stopping place and site of discussions when young Inuit involved in negotiating the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement or participating in Northwest Territories political life passed through the community.
Maksagak was appointed as Deputy Commissioner of the Northwest Territories in 1992. In 1995, she was appointed as Commissioner, partially in anticipation of the pending creation of the territory of Nunavut in 1999. She was the first woman and first Inuk to hold the office. In April 1999 she transferred with her office to the new Nunavut Territory and continued to provide stability to the new government in transition. She served until April 2000 as the first commissioner of the newly created territory of Nunavut and then as Assistant Commissioner of Nunavut from 2005 until her death in 2009.
Helen Maksagak was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada in May, 2003. She served as a member of the Qulliit (Nunavut) Status of Women Council and as an Elder for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.
Maksagak died on January 23, 2009 at the age of 77. Helen Maksagak Drive in Iqaluit is named in her memory.