Guest blog written by Arctic 2018 alumna Jukipa Anrango Kotierk.
Being chosen as one of the two first ever Alumni Travel Grant recipients was a lovely experience. I was ecstatic to hear the news and be able to take part in a research-based event in Arctic science as an attendee. From the past trip to Ottawa, Ontario I was able to get some hands-on interaction with the research that’s going on in my arctic home that discussed many things from food insecurity, to infrastructure development and environmental change due to global warming. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect besides being amongst many researchers who seem to care enough about the Arctic to study it. I was excited to see what researchers were able to compile and share amongst like-minded people and those invested in the territory whatever their connection be. As someone who connects to the Arctic by calling the Arctic home and flew from Iqaluit, Nunavut I just couldn’t help but notice that the entire conference was disproportionately represented by white cis men primarily in speaker positions, with few women. Of those women I was thankful to see that there were some women of colour as well which is great representation for someone like me – an Inuk woman.
I had to mentally prepare myself to feel tokenized as per usual when attending events based on the home of my peoples when attending ArcticNet. I was so happy knowing that I wasn’t the only Inuk there when I met my roommate that Students On Ice (SOI) had bunked me with, as she was also Inuk, but from another region. A testament to how vast traditional Inuit Nunangat really is, and spans across not only Canada, but Greenland, Russia, and Alaska as well. Much of my most valuable experiences revolved around Inuit centered workshops and bumping into Inuit at this very western event. It’s refreshing and so necessary to see Inuit taking up space where we literally need to, as people of the Arctic. We have an integral role in observational research-based practises in Inuit Nunaat that is only now being recognized and listened to, thankfully. It doesn’t make sense to me that past research omitted first hand experiential learning and discredited it only to be “confirmed” after a settler through western practises deemed it to be true that things have in fact changed. I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to take up space at this event with the help of SOI and want to encourage Inuit to not only take up spaces and use your voices when necessary, but also give yourselves to fields that challenge you when you can and have the emotional capacity to take that challenge on. Maybe that challenge is asserting yourself and simply being there when you feel you don’t belong – because we need you there. In the end we are not known for taking but giving, and in giving ourselves and our knowledge to such research is not an honour to give for our sake, but to give and speak for our homelands and animals.