Eva Aariak

Premier of Nunavut • November 2008 to November 2013

The leadership vote of November 2008 was held by secret ballot, and Aariak won, becoming the first – and to date, only – female premier of Nunavut.

Eva Aariak was born and raised in Arctic Bay, a small Inuit hamlet on the northern shores of Baffin Island.

She was involved in local politics as a young woman and later served as a Hamlet Councillor. When asked if she had ever imagined one day becoming premier, she said, “I never really imagined how far I would go. It was always about doing what I felt I could do, at that moment, in the community where I lived.”

On October 27, 2008, Eva Aariak was elected to the Nunavut Legislative Assembly. She was the only woman elected.

Under Nunavut’s consensus government model, the unicameral and nonpartisan Legislative Assembly selects a premier from among elected members at a Leadership Forum held shortly after the election. The premier then selects the cabinet.

The Leadership Forum was held on November 14, 2008. Three members wanted the job: the incumbent male premier, a male veteran politician, and newly elected Aariak. The vote was held by secret ballot, and Aariak won, becoming the first – and to date, only – female premier of Nunavut.

Hear more about the Canadian women who have served as a First Minister by checking out our No Second Chances Podcast.