by Kaitlyn Gillelan and Ocean Pottle-Shiwak

This past month Ocean and I were really grateful to have had the opportunity to have attended ArcticNet which is a conference that focuses on the change that the North is experiencing from “in its sea and terrestrial ice, permafrost and ecosystems under the triple pressures of climate change, industrialization and modernization. The impacts of these pressures can be seen on food and energy security, shipping, sovereignty, northern community health and well-being, and sustainable development and resource exploitation. All these issues have brought the North to the forefront of national and international agendas” (ArcticNet, 2019).

To share this experience we have decided to write a blog post sharing some of top tips and few of our takeaways from this conference. 

Our top tips for attending a conference

1. Intentions are key!
    Before going to the conference take a moment to reflect on the following questions
    Q: What am I hoping to learn from this space and take back to my community?
    Q: How am I hoping to grow from this experience?
    Q: What are some ways that I can challenge myself to step outside of my comfort zone?

If you are an introvert like me, you will feel that last question. Whenever you are entering a new space it is so important to set INTENTIONS so that you can get the most from that experience. Then throughout the conference you can keep going back to those intentions and find a sense of grounding from them.

If yah got an intention that you think we should add to this list comment below!

2. Imposter syndrome can be real so let’s hit head on
You might be wondering what the heck is imposter syndrome? Well no worries we got you – basically it means a feeling of self doubt and questioning why you were chosen to be in that space.

Full disclosure coming into this conference I was super intimidated because I was not coming from a science background – hello social science / arts life! There were even moments when I was sitting in a session and felt incredibly lost from the content being discussed and immediately began to doubt myself.

Maybe you have felt this way before? If you have or find yourself in that moment take a few deep breaths to recentre. Begin to monitor your thoughts and reframe your mindset. Remind yourself that YOU deserve to be in that room and to be filling that space! If you want to take it a step further look in a mirror or in your head repeat the following sentences

“I deserve to be here”
“My voice and my story matters”

*Sometimes as womxn and POC these can be feelings that persist even more when those spaces are not reflective of the diversity of our communities.*

3. As cliche as it may sound TRULY show up as yourself!!!

We love the authentic and unapologetic version of you, so let it shine!!! So if that means rolling up to the conference in pieces that make you feel the most comfortable, rocking colour, jewelry – whatever it is, rock it!

One conference I went to a friend of mine wore pieces of clothing each designed by folks in her community. She said that wearing those pieces in that space made her feel as though her community was with her every step of the way. Shoutout to Arizona because girl you killed it!

4. Remember the two F’s (friends and food!)

This is honestly my favourite part of conferences getting the chance to meet new folks and to do so over a shared meal!!

Conferences are a great way to make new friends and to connect with folks you otherwise may have never had the chance to. Take a step outside of your comfort zone and following tip #1 set an intention of introducing yourself to 3 new people! (who knows you may have just met your new BFF).

Food – do not underestimate the power of snacks! If you are going to keep those energy levels going through the day get to those break out snack tables fast. Or prepare ahead and travel with your favourite go to snacks and offer some to your new friend – instant friendship I promise aha

5. The importance of SELFcare

Sometimes conferences can be very mentally and emotionally demanding from waking up early in the morning, interacting with people for most of the day, and listening to content that is directly related to your own community. That is why it is so important to take the time to check in with yourself and understand “what do I need in this moment?”  Then communicate with those around you and take a step towards meeting the need!

6. Reciprocity

One of the best parts of being able to attend a conference is coming back home and sharing what you learned with your community. What pieces stood out to you? How were you challenged? What were some of the highlights?  What you would have liked to see more of?

Here are some of our main takeaways and highlights from this conference.

  • Historically the relationship between Inuit and the research community demonstrates examples of exploitation and racism. “Research had largely functioned as a tool of colonialism, with the earliest scientific forays into Inuit Nunangat as precursors for the expansion of Canadian sovereignty and the dehumanization of Inuit” (National Inuit Strategy on Research, pg. 4). Unfortunately, this legacy continues to be depicted today in research through governance, funding and practices. If you are considering doing research then we highly recommend you taking the time to read and guide your work in the “National Inuit Strategy on Research.” Here is the link!  https://www.itk.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/National-Inuit-Strategy-on-Research.pdf
  • Keep your eyes out for the North by North Program! It is research by the North, for the North, in the North focused on building research capacity in Canada’s northern colleges. “Inuit envision research producing new knowledge that empowers our people in meeting the needs and priorities of our families and communities. We see achieving self-determination in research as the means for ensuring that research governance bodies, policies, and practices are consistent with this vision.” (National Inuit Strategy on Research, pg. 5). It was made clear that this program that it was made by Inuit, for Inuit.
  • We were both present for the official launch of SIKU which is an app that serves as an “Indigenous knowledge social network by and for Inuit to facilitate self-determination and education and stewardship which provides tools and services for ice safety, language preservation and weather services” (SIKU, 2019). Make sure to check it out and download the app! 

7. Gratitude

Massive thank-you to our sponsor JASCO for making this opportunity a possibility for the both of us – we are so grateful and are excited to implement the pieces that we have learned within our own communities.

Students on Ice is proudly supported by bv02.

This website was made possible by a generous contribution from the Leacross Foundation.

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