Flaherty, Louise

Author, publisher, teacher and politician born in 1969 in Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit, Nunavut).

Louise Flaherty, named Louise Joanas at birth, was born in 1969 on an airplane bound for Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit). She grew up in Clyde River, Nunavut, an Inuit hamlet on the shores of Baffin Island and was raised by her parents Johnny and Leah Joanas and her grandparents Natanine and Mary Kautuq. As a child, her grandparents taught her Inuktitut and passed on their passion for their language. As a teenager, she travelled to Iqaluit and meeting only English-speaking Inuit for the first time, she realized the importance of transmitting her native language and Inuktitut literacy for all Nunavummiut. Louise Flaherty is married to William Flaherty and they have two children, Kenny and Andrea. Her husband, William Flaherty, is the grandson of filmmaker Robert Flaherty, who in 1922 directed the film Nanook of the North, the first documentary film in the history of cinema, shot in present-day Nunavik.

In 1990, Louise Flaherty moved to Iqaluit and studied to become a teacher. In 1992, she obtained a certificate in Native and Northern Education from McGill University. In 1993, she received a Bachelor of Education degree from McGill University through Nunavut Arctic College. After graduation, Louise Flaherty taught at several Nunavut schools and colleges, in a variety of disciplines and at several levels. In the 2010s, she held a Vice-President position for the Nunavut Bilingual Education Society.

In 2005, with Neil and Danny Christopher, she founded Inhabit Media. This is the only literary publishing house in the Canadian Arctic and its mission is to publish the stories and knowledge of Inuit and non-Inuit authors. Inhabit Media produces oral histories and works with elders, storytellers, and hunters, among others and publishes in Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, French and English.

In addition to her work as an editor, Louise Flaherty has written numerous books and educational manuals for children in Inuktitut and English. In 2011, with Noel McDermott and Neil Christopher, she published a collection of traditional myths and legends entitled Unikkaaqtuat: An Introduction to Inuit Myths and Legends. With the help of Pelagie Owlijoot in 2013, she wrote Inuit Kinship and Naming Customs. Inuit ilagiigusinggit amma attiqtuijjusinggit, a book about the traditional Inuit system of kinship terms. In 2017, she released a children's graphic novel inspired by the Inuit legend, The Gnawer of Rocks in English and ᒪᖕᒋᑦᑕᑐᐊᕐᔪᒃ ᐅᔭᕋᖕᒥ ᒪᖕᒋᑦᑎ in Inuktitut. A French translation appeared in 2020 entitled La croqueuse de pierre. With Inhabit Education, Louise Flaherty also prepared educational manuals for children: Things That Keep Us Warm in 2016 (in English, Inuktitut and French) and At the Playground in 2020 (in English and Inuktitut). For her work as an editor and an author, Louise Flaherty received the Literacy Award from the Council of the Federation of Canadian Premiers in 2011.

In 2011, Louise Flaherty, with Neil Christopher founded the production company Taqqut Productions which creates animated films for children. In an interview with Windspeaker News in 2016, Flaherty explained: "I am a grandmother, and growing up we had very limited books and resources that showed our identity. So for my granddaughter's generation, I wanted to make sure they had more of us in the books they would be reading, and also in what she was going to be watching.” She has several film productions released including the short film The Country of Wolves in 2011. In the same year, she produced the movie The Orphan and the Polar Bear directed by Neil Christopher, an adaptation of Sakiasi Qaunaq's book of the same title. In 2019, Louise Flaherty produced the animation The Giant Bear and then the animated series Emotional Literacy in 2020, for toddlers.

In addition to her work in teaching, education, literature and film, Louise Flaherty has also been  active in politics within the Government of Nunavut. She has held the positions of Deputy Minister of Culture and Heritage from 2017 to 2018 and the Deputy Minister of Education from 2018 to 2019.

Today, Louise Flaherty lives in the Iqaluit area - she continues her work with Inhabit Media and Taqqut Productions.

This biography is based on the available written material during a collective research carried out during 2018-2021. It is possible that mistakes and facts need to be corrected. If you notice an error, or if you wish to correct something in an author's biography, please write to us at imaginairedunord@uqam.ca and we will be happy to do so. This is how we will be able to have more precise presentations, and to better promote Inuit culture.

(c) International Laboratory for Research on Images of the North, Winter and the Arctic, Université du Québec à Montréal, 2018-2021, Daniel Chartier and al.