- Nation: Inuit
Johnny Issaluk is from the small Arctic hamlet Igluligaarjuk (also known as Chesterfield Inlet), on the coast of Hudson’s Bay in Nunavut. He grew up traditionally, out on the land, hunting, fishing and camping with his elders, as Inuit have for centuries. Traditional life was juxtaposed with conventional education through residential secondary school and Nunavut Arctic College in tourism, guiding and environmental technology.
Picture courtesy of Michelle Valberg
Johnny works with various organizations that address mental health, suicide prevention and healing through counseling and traditional activities. Johnny is also developing a small consulting business, Nurraq Outfitting, which involves: public speaking, motivational counseling, land trips, arctic sports demonstrations and all manner of activities that grab his interest.
Among those many interests Johnny is a keen volunteer and youth mentor; teaching Arctic games and traditional activities at a local daycare and coaching Arctic sports at a local gym are regular appointments for him. One of the youth projects closest to Johnny’s heart is the internationally renowned educational program “Students on Ice”; where he has worked with youth from all over the world as an Arctic ambassador and spokesman for Arctic stewardship. In recent years Johnny has also become an avid supporter of a women’s development program in India, and he has visited the organization and spent time working in orphanages, schools and with women’s peace councils in rural Kolkata.
As an athlete Johnny has been practicing, competing, performing, coaching and teaching Inuit Games for more than 20 years. Johnny’s athletic career has yielded more than 200 medal finishes in regional and national competitions. He is one of the most successful Inuit Games athletes of his generation. Johnny is a recipient of the Diamond Jubilee Medal, and one of the first sixty Canadians to receive the honour. Johnny was recognized for his ongoing contribution to the health and wellbeing of Nunavummiut. Johnny has five children, and lives with his wife and two dogs in Iqaluit, Nunavut.