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Jose Kusugak was born at Repulse Bay (now Naujaat), Northwest Territories (N.W.T.), the second eldest of twelve children. His parents were both employed by the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), his father as a handyman and his mother as a cleaner and fur washer. The family moved to Rankin Inlet in 1960. Kusugak attended schools at Chesterfield Inlet and Churchill, before moving on to the high school at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Upon completing high school, he returned to Rankin Inlet to work at the Eskimo Language School, a branch of the University of Saskatchewan. Later, he taught Inuktitut, and Inuit History, at Churchill Vocational Centre.
Kusugak first became involved with Inuit politics in 1971, with his efforts to convince the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (ITC) of the need for standardization of the written Inuit language. His campaign was so successful that he was chosen to head the project for the entire Arctic. He went to the ITC head office in Ottawa to begin the work. While waiting for project funding, he occupied his time in promoting the concept of land claims to the people of the Arctic, and in working on a land use and occupancy study.
When the funding arrived in 1974, Kusugak moved to Arviat, where by 1976 he had established the standard writing system. In 1979, he accepted the position of area manager, Kivalliq Region for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), a post he held for ten years. He became active in politics again when he became president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) in 1990. He remained in this position until April 2000.
Conference speakers : Jose Kusugak, past president, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. [online]. -- Governor General's Canadian Study Conference 2000. -- [Cited December 4, 2000]. -- Access [Website not currently available]: www.canstudy2000.org/en/bio_jose_kusugak.html
Inuit Tapirisat of Canada : President's greeting [online]. -- Inuit Tapirisat of Canada. -- [Cited December 1, 2000]. -- Access: www.itk.ca