Mary Simon is a past president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the national Inuit organization that she led from 2006 to 2012. After leaving ITK, she chaired the National Committee on Inuit Education with a mandate to implement a comprehensive national strategy aimed at improving Inuit educational standards and achievements. In 2016, she was appointed by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett as the Minister’s Special Representative to help develop a new shared Arctic Leadership Model that built on the commitments made in the US-Canada Joint Statement on Climate, Energy and Arctic Leadership. She presented her findings a final report in March 2017. Over four decades she has advanced critical social, economic and human rights issues for Canadian Inuit regionally, nationally and internationally. She had held numerous senior leadership positions including president of Makivik Corporation, which is a land claims organization for Nunavik, president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council and Canadian Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs and ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark. She led Canada’s negotiations during the creation of the Arctic Council in the mid-1990s. She is an officer of the Order of Canada, recipient of the National Order of Quebec, the Gold Order of Greenland, the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, the Gold Order of the Canadian Geographic Society, the Symons Medal and the Governor General’s Northern Award. She has been inducted into the International Women’s Hall of Fame and is a fellow with the Arctic Institute of North America and the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. She was a founding board member of Oceans North.
Chris Mills is a socially responsible financial advisor who helps families and institutions understand the impact that their investments have on the world. By analyzing environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, Chris and his team help clients use their wealth to create positive change while generating returns. Chris has a degree in finance from the State University of New York and is an accredited Chartered Investment Manager, Portfolio Manager, and Responsible Investment Advisor (RIA). He is licensed to provide investment advice in both the United States and Canada. Chris is based out of Vancouver, BC.
Dr. Peter Harrison is professor emeritus in the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He received his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington in 1973. During a nearly 30-year career as a senior public servant in federal departments, he was appointed deputy minister of Natural Resources Canada and worked for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, as a senior research fellow for oceans with the National Research Council of Canada and Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada. He also held senior positions in the Department of Finance, Indian and Northern Affairs, Revenue Canada and Human Resources Development Canada. He served as secretary to the Priorities and Planning Committee of the federal cabinet’s Privy Council Office, shepherded Canada’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and oversaw the investment of $150 million in the International Polar Year (IPY). Dr. Harrison chaired the 2012 IPY Conference “From Knowledge to Action” in Montreal.
John Lounds is the former president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). Under his leadership, NCC grew significantly, raising more than $1 billion for conservation projects that have protected over 14 million hectares of important lands and waters. Prior to that, he was executive director of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists (now Ontario Nature). John has served as a member of the National Advisory Panel on Conservation, the University of Waterloo’s Board of Governors, and the board of the Metcalf Foundation. He has a master’s degree in Environmental Studies from York University. John currently lives in Whitby, Ontario, and is the proud spouse of Ellen McRae and dad to her wonderful children: Aimee, Scott, Melanie and Ed.
Lucy is a seasoned leader, strategist, and operator with more than 20 years of global experience focused on climate action and sustainability in organizations ranging from the United Nations to the tech sector. She is a trusted and sought-after advisor to senior public– and private-sector leaders and recently spent five years as a senior political advisor to several federal cabinet ministers. Lucy left politics in 2021 and now leads Public Affairs and Policy at Patch, a carbon removal platform that enables businesses to take meaningful climate action quickly and simply. Lucy holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University, where she studied as a Fulbright scholar.
Nellie Taptaqut Kusugak
Nellie Taptaqut Kusugak is a retired, professional bilingual teacher with an extensive background in traditional and cultural education. She was born in 1955 in a tent in Eskimo Point, now Arviat.
Fluent in both Inuktitut and English, Nellie was a prominent educator for decades. She held teaching positions in both the public school system and at Nunavut Arctic College. At the college, Nellie taught a variety of courses with a focus on the Nunavut Teacher Education Program. She is a graduate of that program, earning a Bachelor of Education through Nunavut Arctic College and McGill University in 1996, where she taught as an adjunct professor.
In 2010, Kusugak was appointed Deputy Commissioner of Nunavut and served in that role until 2015. She was briefly Acting Commissioner in 2010 and was appointed fifth Commissioner of Nunavut from 2015 to 2020.
Nellie is the daughter of Johnny and Rhoda Karetak. Her father was an RCMP Special Constable. She was married to the late Jose Kusugak and together they raised four children — Aliisa, Pujjuut, Alaana, and Special. She now has 13 grandchildren and three great-granddaughters.
Nellie is passionate about preserving and strengthening her Inuit culture, tradition, and language: “Never forget where you come from and who you are.”