Born to an Inuk mother in 1936 and raised in Edmonton, Kiviaq holds the distinction of being Canada’s first Inuit lawyer. As a child, Kiviaq endured the racism of schoolyard bullies, and developed prowess as a fighter. As a young man, he had a distinguished athletic career that included boxing and football.
Kiviaq went on to serve on the Edmonton City Council as an alderman, a position to which he was elected in 1968. He attended Louisiana State and Washington State universities on scholarships, and later undertook his legal education at UBC. He is pictured above with Chief Justice Bora Laskin (left), who received an honourary doctorate on the day of Kiviaq’s graduation.
Kiviaq was a lifelong advocate for Inuit and aboriginal peoples. His accomplishments include securing the right to use his Inuktitut name, a claim which was initially denied due to an Alberta law requiring each individual to have both a given name and a surname. Kiviaq was also a popular CJCA radio host in Edmonton. In recognition of his numerous and varied accomplishments, in 2003 the City of Edmonton declared March 14th to be Kiviaq Day.