Tongak, Lily Taqaugak

Government administrator in Igloolik (Nunavut) born at the early 1970’s

Lily Taqaugak Tongak, also known as Lily Kadlutsiaq-Tongak, was probably born at the turn of the 1970’s. She is the daughter of Josiah Kadlutsiaq and Damaris Ittukusuk Kadlutsiaq and the fourth of their nine children. Bobby, her younger brother, inherited the name of their maternal grandmother Qaumayuq. Lily Taqaugak Tongak is herself the mother of two : her daughter, Jennifer Tongak, and her adopted son, whom she gave her mother’s first name Damaris as a sauniq (namesake). Lily Taqaugak Tongak is the niece of Morgan, Rhoda, Titus and Esther Arnakallak and the granddaughter of Samuel Arnakallak, also known as Samuel Anukudluk.

Lily Taqaugak Tongak is mostly known for her testimony to Nancy Wachowich, a social anthropologist at the University of Aberdeen (Scotland) and a specialist in colonial history and social movements of the Inuit of the communities of Pond Inlet (now Mittimatalik) and Igloolik, Nunavut. In the book Making and Growing: Anthropological Studies of Organisms and Artefacts (Anthropological Studies of Creativity and Perception) (2014), edited by anthropologists Elizabeth Hallam and Tim Ingold, Lily Taqaugak Tongak described to Nancy Wachowich the life of her mother Damaris, in the chapter « Stitching Lives : A family History of making Caribou Skin in the Canadian Arctic ». Lily Taqaugak Tongak recounted that Damaris Ittukusuk Kadlutsiaq was born in 1943 in Nalluaq, near Pont Inlet; Nalluaq was one of the last traditional Inuit camps. In 1953, Damaris Ittukusuk Kadlutsiaq’s family was first relocated to Craig Harbour (Ellesmere Island, in today’s Nunavut) in the High Arctic, located about fifty kilometers south-east of Grise Fiord, then, a week later, to Lindstrom Peninsula (Ellesmere Island, today’s Nunavut), sixty-four kilometers further north. After four years living on Ellesmere Island, Damaris Ittukusuk Kadlutsiaq and her family – mother Qaumayuq, father Arnakallak and some of her siblings, Rhoda, Maikpainnuk, Morgan, Timonie, Phoebe, Jonathan – were able to return in Pond Inlet in 1957. Damaris Ittukusuk Kadlutsiaq’s family was one of many Inuit families who were relocated from Arctic to High Arctic by the federal government at the beginning of the 1950’s. This program aimed to populate High Arctic in order to secure the Canadian territorial sovereignty in this region. Those Inuit families were not used to cope with extreme living conditions in the High Arctic : they had to fight for their survival and have been, until today, deeply traumatised by this experience. Nevertheless, this did not seem to have been the case for Damaris Ittukusuk Kadlutsiaq, whom Lily Taqaugak Tongak said spoke wistfully about her memories of Ellesmere Island, wishing she could return. Both mother and daughter planned to do this trip, but Damaris Ittukusuk Kadlutsiaq prematurely died before they could travel. Damaris died at the age of 54.

The custodian of her family’s history and her mother Damaris Ittukusuk Kadlutsiaq’s memories, Lily Taqaugak Tongak now lives in Igloolik, Nunavut, and works there as a government administrator.

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.