Every year in January, since his passing in 1998 Arviat holds the Jon Lindell Memorial Hockey tournament, a tribute to the contribution he made to the community and in particular his love of the game and his many accomplishments. Teams from across the north take part. All four of Jon and Nancy’s sons play along with a number of the members of Nancy’s family. The team is known as the ‘Karetakers’. This past January they won the tournament.(2016). It is always a well attended event and a highlight of the hockey season. First Air even gives special rates to participants to fly in to Arviat.
The tournament is a constant reminder of Jon and his commitment to the community.
Nancy is always on hand to thank the players and fans alike. She attends the games and presents trophies to MVPs and winners. She takes pride in the success of this event. What better way to honor her husband, Jon, who had such a passion for the game.
Jon Karl Lindell was born in the small town of Espanola, not far from Sudbury, Ontario on the 18th of March 1957. He was the second son of Karl and Laurie Jackson. As a youngster and throughout his life he was full of energy, a going concern and the complete opposite of his brother. He was boisterous, fun-loving, and always up to something. The family referred to him as ‘Jolly Jon’, in order to distinguish him from his Uncle John.
When Jon was seven years old his parents divorced and the children lived with their mother. They moved to Ontario. We saw them when they would come to the farm during the summer to spend time with their father enjoying the country fresh air, the sauna and the horses.
At the age of fifteen Jon requested to live with his father in the Montreal area. He attended High School but was having great difficulty with French and figured he had had enough of school. Because he was under age his father signed the necessary document for him to quit school. He acquired a job on a Government construction site on Baffin Island, a far cry from the life he had known. There he began an adventure that would keep him in the far north all of his short life.
Eventually he made his way to the small hamlet of Eskimo Point in the Northwest Territories on Hudson Bay, now known as Arviat, Nunavut. There he met his future wife, Nancy Karetak, of Icelandic and Inuit descent. One of ten children. Her father was a constable for the RCMP and her mother was actively involved in the church. She had attended High School in the Yellowknife. Following her parents example she was very active in community affairs as a financial controller and municipal councillor. Together, Jon and Nancy were involved in a thriving family business, Eskimo Point Lumber Company. All merchandise was shipped either by air or by boat. The nearest large community was Churchill, Manitoba.
To reach Arviat even today, air transportation is the only way to access the community. This is one of the primary reasons the cost of living in northern communities is so high.
Together they started a family. Nancy continued her work in the community and Jon was instrumental in setting up a hockey program. He coached for many years and his sons were proficient players. Jackson, the oldest was the goalie for Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and Amauyaq, his second son played hockey for St. Michael’s College in Toronto. Jon was well received and loved by the community. His friendly manner was respected by all and he was a good coach.
In 1997 Nancy was elected to represent Nunavut in the Federal Election and she began her career as a politician. A year and half into her mandate as an MP she received news that would change her life and her sons forever. On December 8th, 1998 in Arviat, while playing hockey, the sport he loved, Jon suffered a tragic death. He had a massive cardiac arrest. He was 41 years old.
Nancy found herself a widow with four young boys between the ages of nineteen and eleven. She continued her work in Ottawa while the boys attended schools in the area.
She was in attendance in Nunavut on the 1st of April 1999 when it became a new Territory. Her biggest regret was that Jon was not there to share in this momentous occasion.
Jon and Nancy Happy Family Times visiting in Ontario
Nancy Karetak-Lindell continues to contribute her talents and expertise. She was recently named President of the Inuitcircumpolar Council for Canada and Vice-Chair International, to a land claims organization working with the Inuit of Alaska, Canada, Russia, and Greenland. She still lives in Arviat and all four sons are also raising their ever growing families, in Iqaluit, and Rankin Inlet. They have maintained their Inuit heritage and traditions and like their parents serve in their communities.
Eskimo Point Lumber Supply and Airport Services has grown since 1978 and continues to thrive. Their facebook page gives some insight into what life is like in Arviat .