Reclaiming Inuit Governance: Self Determining our Future in NunatuKavut
I am from a small, isolated Inuit community called Black Tickle, located on the southeast coast of Labrador. Reflecting back, growing up in Black Tickle was filled with adventure and freedom to explore the land through changing seasons. Each month brought something new to do, see and experience! we didn’t have the basic amenities that most Canadians enjoy, like potable water, community sewage infrastructure, organized activities, etc. For me, this offered unlimited opportunity to learn about life in ways that I could not have learned elsewhere. I have no doubt been positively shaped by my home and by all of the experiences provided there. This is in part why I chose research that is strength-based, seeking to build on the good in our communities while responding to the priorities and interests of people that still live there. I see research as a tool for community and cultural preservation and want to pursue research reflective of that.
As one part of my doctoral research, and in my position as Research Manager with the NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC), I developed and co-led a Community Governance and Sustainability Initiative (CGSI). It was launched in the fall of 2016 with the co-leadership of three pilot communities: Black Tickle, Norman Bay and St. Lewis. To kick off the initiative, we hosted a three-day workshop with representatives from the three communities to draft a vision, including community goals and sustainability initiatives for further discussion in their home communities. A number of activities were initiated to engage as many community members as possible in sharing stories and ideas about an ideal future. The “why we love our communities” contest was a wide success, with many residents, young and old, sharing photos and stories about why they have such a strong connection to their home and what makes it great.
Over the course of the CGSI, community representatives used this kind of feedback to build upon the initial vision and ultimately develop sustainability goals relative to their own communities. To date, communities have been working to implement their sustainability goals. This has resulted in tangible outcomes for communities. We are seeing strengthened capacity and ownership in areas like infrastructure planning and proposal writing. This introduction to community-led research has also inspired communities to identify other strategic research areas that might benefit them in their future.
Receiving the Kausattumi Grant has assisted in the continuation of this important work. It has also provided opportunities to highlight the incredible work that Inuit communities are leading in NunatuKavut, Labrador.