Our History

Many Nunavummiut were determined to see our office open!

Our history begins in 1999 – the same year Nunavut became a territory. That year, Debbie Gray, a Cambridge Bay teacher, first made the case for a territorial child advocate. She felt an independent advocate could help the government meet children’s unique needs. Keith Peterson was mayor of Cambridge Bay at the time. He raised the issue publicly. Soon after, the new Government of Nunavut began exploring the idea. But it did not immediately commit to creating an independent office.

Finally, in 2009, Premier Eva Aariak and her government announced that the creation of an independent child and youth representative for Nunavut would be a key project. This was a major step forward. The Government of Nunavut had made a clear commitment to establishing an independent Representative for Children and Youth.

But there was still much work to do. First, a steering committee was formed. It was made up of government departments and other key organizations, including Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated. Then many meetings and consultations were held with a number of different groups and organizations.

Three years after Premier Aariak’s announcement, in 2012, the first draft of the Representative for Children and Youth Act was completed. About a year later, on September 17, 2013, the RCY Act was passed in Nunavut’s legislature. On June 16, 2014, Nunavut’s first Representative for Children and Youth, Sherry McNeil-Mulak, was appointed. The RCY office officially opened its doors on September 30, 2015.

Between 1999 and 2015, many Nunavummiut – from government leaders and employees to members of the public - contributed their passion and gave their support to the creation of our office. So many that not all their names can be listed here. However, some key figures and organizations included MLAs Keith Peterson, Rebekah Williams, Ron Elliot and Johnny Ningeongan, as well as Brenda Jancke, Elwood Johnson, David General, the Nunavut Association of Municipalities, the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated.

Our team feels privileged to bring life to the hard work of those that came before us!