Karen Nutarak is from Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet), Nunavut. She raised her family with her husband, Harvey. Together they have four children, Sula, Crystal, Katherine, and Alain, and six grandchildren.
Karen has worked in tourism for more than twenty-five years. In March 2020, she started her own business, Atii (Let’s go) Tourism. She enjoys planning events for visitors, presenting in cultural performances, and meeting people from all over the world. As an active member of the Tununiqmiut Theatre Group, Karen has been volunteering in community cultural performances since 1995.
Karen is a passionate advocate for education. In 2015, Karen and Tessa Lochhead co-founded the Pirurvik Preschool in Pond Inlet, which provides early childhood education that is based on Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit traditional knowledge) principles and is enriched through the use of Montessori materials. The preschool is guided by the principle of Pilimmaksarniq, which allows children to learn at their own pace. Children follow their own natural curiosity by choosing topics that interest them.
In February 2019, the Pirurvik Preschool project won a million dollar Arctic Inspiration Prize for its high-quality and culturally relevant innovation. The prize is now being used to implement this successful program across Nunavut in seven community daycares (Pond Inlet, Igloolik, Arctic Bay, Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, Cambridge Bay, and Taloyoak). Each will receive training from Pirurvik Preschool staff, as well as all of the necessary furniture and materials, to adapt each centre to the specific community.
Karen also volunteers as the coordinator for the Seltzer-Chan Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that helps the community with funding for projects from areas such as education, poverty reduction, and cultural programs. Since 2009, she has worked as the Adult Educator for the Community Learning Centre at Nunavut Arctic College’s Pond Inlet campus.