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Stories from Women of The Arctic

 

My name is Brooklyn Alainga-Winsor, I’m 7 years old and in grade one, but almost grade two. I like to go for walks in the spring. My favourite sports are probably skating, soccer and judo. I think boys and girls can do any sports. It’s for anyone. Like people might think soccer is for boys, but it’s for girls too. It wouldn’t be fair if it was only for boys or only for girls.

When I grow up, I think I probably want to be a police officer. I think I can do anything. If you want to learn how to do something, you just have to try and keep trying.

 

My name is Natalie Maerzluft and I have lived in Iqaluit for 10 years. Currently I work for NCC full time, but also work on projects with Skills Canada Nunavut.  After completing my Graphic Design college program online because of COVID, I was itching to get OFF the computer. I had a friend who worked with NCC and I asked if they took on summer students. I was able to work during the summer as a student. I fell in love with it and asked if I could stay as an apprentice! I had always wanted to be in a male dominated trade and do well just to be an example that women can be great in all industries! I also love obtaining skills that would allow me to give back to the community. Carpentry was the most attractive trade as it means I could eventually build my own house or help other community members build their own cabins.

As I female I feel like I must work hard to prove that I am serious about being there. This work is hard but it’s so rewarding. Internally I wrestled with the idea that I couldn’t make mistakes, look weak, or need help because then I felt like I was playing into a “girl” stereotype. These were things I have learned to let go of, as my coworkers are super encouraging and remind me that they make mistakes all the time, and I watch them ask questions to each other or our supervisor often.

If you find yourself interested in any trades, BELIEVE that you have that interest, desire, or passion for a reason! Women don’t usually go into the trades to prove to men that we can do it… we’re usually there to prove to OURSELVES that we can do it! Something that helped me was following women in trades on social media to get exposed to the industries and stay encouraged on harder days. Finding community and connecting to other women in trades is a great way to not get discouraged over time.

You don’t have to explain your reasoning for wanting to get into the trades with anyone. If it’s a desire of yours, hold it close to your heart and follow it. Holding onto your “why” is so important, especially on the hard days. Don’t let the critical minds of other people, crush your big dreams.

 

My name is Natsiq Kango. I am a traditional counsellor and advisor at the high school and with Nunavut Arctic College. Though, I have had many jobs throughout my life. I am a midwife and have been there for the delivery of hundreds of babies. Women are gifted people. I have seen women’s ability to love and care unconditionally and make difficult life decisions. I want women to believe in themselves and know that they can make a difference. I have talked with different women about this, whether it was individually, in groups, or at church, really whenever I have the opportunity to do this. I try to integrate my traditional knowledge into my conversations.

What I like about traditional knowledge is that there is a sincerity in the way of life. Communication plays a big role in getting across to people. Many Inuit want to understand why there is so much anger, why they are hurting, why they feel different than others or are treated differently. They are confused about why they are being seen in a negative light. It creates broken lives, broken mentality. I try to be a support to them in answering these questions. There is hope. I see hope in even making a small slight positive change in a young person’s life. I have to be open to helping them with what they are lost in. I see a light at the end of the tunnel for them. I love to be at the end of the tunnel to give them a piece of myself to help them mend their heart.

“A community is made up of diverse people whose differences are fostered, appreciated, and celebrated. Through their divergent histories, experiences, skills, and outlooks they add to the vibrancy and sustainability of the community.”

 

My name is Stephanie Bernard and I have lived in Iqaluit, Nunavut for 9 years.  Coming from the GTA area to Iqaluit, I felt at home and fell in love with the community mindset and manner of Nunavut.  In this territory you understand what being a neighbour truly is.  Iqaluit, Nunavut is a melting pot of people from right across the world, bringing their varied cultures, perspectives, and joie de vivre with them.  This is so similar to my native country of Jamaica.  But more than anything else, it is the capital of the vast beautiful territory of Nunavut and the home of some of the warmest, most accommodating people in the world, who call themselves Inuit.

Encountering such a rich and varied culture with a foundation in oral history and tradition, as well as a central value of accommodating and sharing with others, I was inspired to also share my own.  This I have had the honour to do with community members through leading, organizing and delivering celebrations of Black History Month each year in Iqaluit, and less consistently in small Nunavut communities.  Through creation of the Nunavut Black History Society (NBHS) these celebrations were established as a part of the fabric of the community. 

While celebrating Black History Month each year, the NBHS has also simultaneously shared the arts, history, and culture of people of African descent with the local population while highlighting that of Inuit.  Additionally, it has opened, explored, and invited public (including governmental) conversation on the issues affecting people of African descent (and other BIPOC communities) in Nunavut and generally in Canada.  I count myself lucky to have the opportunity to contribute positively to this educational and transformational process, as although there is community here, there is also the presence of prejudice, hate and racism.  With these we cannot continue to grow from strength to strength, but without them we are unstoppable.  I am just one woman, but my life, experiences of other women and those of my ancestors have taught me to never discount the determination, resolve and influence we have as women to make great change in our community.

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