Taamusi Qumaq… between traditional and modern times
Taamusi Qumaq is considered a model of courage and commitment to the service of his people. He had never been to school and spoke only Inuktitut, but that did not stop him from getting involved in a lot of things.Taamusi was born on Niqsiturlik Island in Hudson Bay in 1914. In 1956, he worked as assistant to the president of the Hudson’s Bay Company in Puvirnituq. He contributed to the creation of a collective savings plan that led to the creation of the first Inuit cooperative. He was also a founding member and director of Quebec’s first Inuit Caisse Populaire.
In Puvirnituq, he founded the first village council which he was head of from 1962 to 1968. He also worked in the Puvirnituq cooperative and was Chair of the Parents Committee of the school. He then led the Inuit Tungavingat Nunamini (“Standing on Our Land”) Association and lectured throughout Quebec
He was responsible for establishing Puvirnituq’s first Inuit community radio station, and he was instrumental in the construction of a hospital in his village. In addition, he began writing an encyclopedia on the traditions of the Inuit and a dictionary of the Inuit language.
At age 69, he became a delegate to the National Assembly’s Parliamentary Committee on Indigenous Rights and took part in the debate on self-government for all Inuit. In 1989 he was appointed a Knight of the Ordre National du Québec, the highest distinction awarded by the Government of Quebec. Taamusi Qumaq died in 1993.