Lynge, Aqqaluk

Poet, professor and politician born in Aasiaat (Greenland) in 1947. 

Aqqaluk Lynge was born in Aasiaat, a small town in western Greenland in 1947. He was born into a family of politicians being the son of Hans Lynge, a Greenlandic politician and the grandson of Frederik Lynge, a Danish politician. Aqqaluk Lynge attended primary school in Greenland and completed his secondary and university schooling in Denmark. He studied at the University of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen Social Hoegskole, (School of Social Work) during the early 70s. Upon graduation (1976), he returned to his hometown, Aasiaat, to work as a social worker for four years (1976-1980) and as an assistant professor at the Social Pedagogical College (1979-1980). During the 80s, he was a journalist for Kalaallit Nunaata Radioa (KNR) the national broadcasting corporation of Greenland.

Over the next 35 years, Aqqaluk Lynge became a prominent and dedicated Greenlandic politician, a defender of Inuit indigenous rights and a prolific Kalaallit author and poet, writing in Greenlandic, Danish and English.

Aqqaluk Lynge’s political involvement began while studying in Denmark, when he participated as board member of the Young Greenlanders Council, a Greenlandic students’ association in Copenhagen and continued as chair when the group became Kalaallit Inuusuttut Ataqatigit (1974-1976). He was cofounder and treasurer of the Aasivik Foundation (1976-1984), a traditional Inuit summer camp, and cofounder (1976-1980) of the Greenlandic political party, Inuit Ataqatigiit and its chairperson from 1980 to 1992. In 1983, Greenlanders elected Aqqaluk Lynge to the first Greenland Home Rule Parliament [Inatsisartut] and he held various ministerial portfolios from 1983 to 1995.

Aqqaluk Lynge served in the leadership of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), both as Vice President (1995-1997), President (1997-2002), Vice Chair ICC International and ICC Greenland President (2002-2014). The ICC organization promotes Inuit rights and interests on an international level, speaking with a united voice for all Inuit communities in the world. Aqqaluk Lynge was instrumental in bringing Russian Inuit (Siberian Yupik) into the ICC family. In 2004, Aqqaluk Lynge was one of eight indigenous members appointed to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, an advisory body to the U.N.'s Economic and Social Council (2005–2007). During this decade, his writing focused on arctic science policy and climate change. While a Dickey Fellow within Institute of Arctic Studies at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, USA, he directed the video Arctic warming at the tipping point: An Inuit voice (Media Production Group, & John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding. Institute of Arctic Studies, 2008). Several articles and conference proceeding followed. In 2009, “Climate change – a challenge for the arctic indigenous peoples – the Inuit response” (IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science), “The Iceberg: A Dangerous Opera” (Inuktitut, no. 106) and in 2010, “Facing the Impact of Global Climate Change. Recommendations from the Arctic”, (Éditions UNESCO), “The First Responsibility.” New Chances and New Responsibilities in the Arctic Region” (International Conference at the German Federal Foreign Office) and co-edited with Marianne Stenbaek, Arctic Inuit policy (International Polar Institute). In 2002, Lynge received The Bill Edmunds Award from the ICC in recognition of his contribution to the promotion of Inuit rights and interests.

His political writing began in 1993 with The Story of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, [Inuit issittormiut kattuffiata oqaluttuassartaa]. With Harlang and Nielsen, he published Retten til thulelandet (literally: The Right to the Country of Thule) (DIKE, 1999) and its Greenlandic version Inughuit nunaat (Europublishers), an explanation of the Thule Inughuit’s claim against the Danish Government (Inughuit are the northernmost group of Inuit in Greenland). In 2002, The Right to Return: Fifty Years of Struggle by Relocated Inughuit in Greenland: Complete with an English Translation of Denmark's Eastern High Court Ruling was published in Nuuk, Greenland. A decade later in 2014, An Inuit Voice. A Collection of Quotations from Speeches on Behalf of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, 2002-2014 was published in Canada and Naggueqatigiit. Inuit Nipaat. Inuit Issittormiut Siunnersuisoqatigiiffiat sinnerlugu 2002-mit 2014-imut oqalugiaatigisimasaasailaannit tigulaakkat / En Inuit stemme. Uddrag af taler på vegne af Inuit Circumpolar Council i perioden 2002-2014 (2016) its translation into Greenlandic and Danish, two years later.

Aqqaluk Lynge’s writing has been an important contribution to Greenlandic literature. Aqqaluk Lynge has authored collections of Greenlandic poetry. In 1982, in Copenhagen, Brondum published Tupigusullutik angalapput Til haeder og aere, a collection Lynge’s poems. An anthology of contemporary Greenlandic poets and writers, edited by Aqqaluk Lynge entitled Sila. Praesentation af grønlandske digtere og forfattere af i dag. En antologi [Sila. Présentation des poètes et auteurs groenlandais d'aujourd'hui] was published 1996, in Nuuk, Greenland. A collection of articles, poetry and speeches from the last 25 years to coincide with Aqqaluk’s 50th birthday was published as Isuma/Synspunkt (Atuakkat, 1997). Taqqat uummammut aqqutaannut takorluukkat apuuffiannut /The Veins of the Heart to Pinnacle of the Mind compiles Greenlandic originals and English translations of selections from Aqqaluk Lynge’s poetry (International Polar Institute, 2008). A French translation, Des veines du coeur au sommet de la pensée (Les Presses de l'Université du Québec) was released in 2012. In 2012, Dartmouth College awarded Aqqaluk Lynge an Honorary Doctor of Humane letters. He directed the film Da myndighed-erne sagde stop (1972) which documents the closing of Quillissat, a Greenlandic coal-mining town and the effects on its townspeople. The Danish Film Institute rereleased the film as Nâlagkersuissut oĸarput tássagôĸ in 2019. Lynge’s works (film, poetry, essays) have a critical perspective of Danish imperialism, showing the consequences colonialism for Inuit in Greenland.

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 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.