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Peter Kamingoak dies at age 88
Kugluktuk elder honoured in December for 67-year marriage

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Friday, February 25, 2011

KUGLUKTUK/COPPERMINE - A 67-year-old love story ended with the passing of Peter Kamingoak, leaving his loved ones a lifetime of memories to cherish.

NNSL photo/graphic

Peter, left, and Cecile Kamingoak give their great-granddaughter Tyra Akeeagok a hug last year. - photo courtesy of Mila Kamingoak

Peter died at his home in Kugluktuk Feb. 17 at age 88.

He and his wife Cecile, also 88, celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary last October, and were honoured with a Commissioner's award for special skills in December for the longevity of their marriage. They have 13 children, 42 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

He was passionate about hockey the Edmonton Oilers were his favourite team. He encouraged his children and grandchildren to attend school, as he believed it would help them get good jobs. He also believed nothing was free and that hard, honest work would reap its own rewards.

"Peter Kamingoak worked in the formation of Inuit Tapirisat of Canada 40 years ago," stated Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Mary Simon in a press release. "He was politically active all his adult life. Peter will be missed by Inuit."

Annie Kamingoak, the couple's seventh child, said family and friends gathered for Peter's funeral service at the community complex.

"Everybody is trying to be strong and my mom is taking it pretty hard. She's having a rough time," she said. "A big thank you to everybody who supported us through our time of sorrow. Everybody was so helpful and we really appreciated it."

She added what they will miss the most about Peter is "his kind heart and his love for all his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren."

Peter was born to Mary Anaomik and Peter Peterson on Dec. 15, 1922 in an iglu at Bernard Harbour, site of a Hudson's Bay Company post. Raised by his grandparents, he attended school up to Grade 6, the highest grade taught at the time in the region. He moved to Coppermine, now Kugluktuk, where he met his future wife Cecile. They were married Oct. 11, 1943.

In the 1950s, Peter acted as an interpreter to yet-to-be prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau after the latter completed one of his paddles of the Coppermine River. At the time, Kugluktuk was little more than an encampment of four or five families living in caribou skin tents. Peter told News/North in 2000 Trudeau spent three or four days in the camp learning about the lives of Inuit.

"He said he was going to do something and he did. Look how we are today, living like kings, in nice warm houses," he said in 2000.

Peter also served as a guide and interpreter to two Anglican ministers and photographer Richard Harrington, whom he took by dog team as far as Baker Lake.

Mert Mohr worked with Peter in the Beaufort Sea for Gulf Oil from 1982 to 1990. Mohr was the supervisor of security while Peter hauled freight to and from the airport, among his many duties.

"He was a very nice man. He was knowledgeable and very easy to get along with," he said from the Vancouver area.

Jim Guthrie first worked with Peter at Gulf Oil's Swimming Point Base Camp on the Mackenzie Delta in 1974.

Peter, as yard foreman, supervised six employees and was responsible to load and unload all oil field trucks, helicopters and Boeing 737 arriving from Edmonton three times a week with 10,000 kg of freight.

"Peter was one of those men that everyone respected and admired and he was a master at this job," stated Guthrie from his current position in Iraq via e-mail.

The site's four drilling rings and construction camps shut down in 1977.

"We still had three more months work to do before we shut down and Peter told me 'if anyone is going to shut the lights down here, it is going to be me' and he did stay until the very end and he shut off the lights for the last time," stated Guthrie.

Peter turned the lights back on in 1983 when Gulf Oil opened its base camp in Tuktoyaktuk for offshore exploration. He worked there until they shut down operations for the last time in 1991.

In recognition of his years of service with Gulf Oil, an 107 metre by 28 metre Arctic crane/supply barge was christened in his name.

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