30 October 2018

In a cozy room in a recreation centre in Iqaluit, a group of people gathered for an engaging discussion on what it means to be a leader today. The participants were contributing to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation’s Future Forums consultation, exploring the importance of Engaged Leadership and Inclusive Excellence in Canada today.

In Northern communities, the question of inclusion is of particular importance.

“We want to ensure Canada’s North is better understood and breakdown the stereotypes,” said Madeleine Redfern, Mayor of Iqaluit. “There is a lot that the North has to offer.”

One of the most significant contributions Northern residents can offer, according to some of the participants, is a different kind of knowledge focused on resourcefulness and oral traditions.

  Pascale in Iqaluit- Future Forums 2018

These different kinds of knowledge

Adriana Kusugak, Executive Director of the Ilitaqsiniq-Nunavut Literacy Council, said that these traditional forms of knowledge deserve greater acknowledgement, including in Northern communities.

“We never have the opportunity to learn from our own people,” she told the group, highlighting the value of Inuit knowledge. “This is what we have to teach our children.”

“Resourcefulness is crucial to leadership in the North,” said Pascale Fournier, President and CEO of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. “In Canada, we have to recognize the rich and varied kinds of knowledge that exist in each part of the country. We have to value and engage with these differences. Our leaders will be stronger for it.”

In Iqaluit, community organizations, such as the Qajuqturvik Food Centre, are putting this into practice. The Food Centre has focused on creating a place for people from across the city to meet and exchange.

“That’s the nice thing about food, it’s a chance for people to talk and interact,” said Michael Lockyer, Head Chef, noting the nickname for the food centre is the Inclusion Café.

“It’s the hub of the city where all of these people from very different backgrounds have a serious interaction.”