Seeking a Northern Perspective

The Future Forums touched down in Yellowknife for what turned into a rich, even moving set of discussions about the meaning of Inclusive Excellence and Engaged Leadership in the context of the Canadian North.

“So much love, inspiration & power coming from these strong female Indigenous leaders!” Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation CEO Pascale Fournier tweeted following the session.

During the meeting, Dr. Fournier indicated the Foundation is working to involve more people from the North in its activities.

“When you look at the North, and the Northwest Territories, there is big under-representation. I am not comfortable with that,” she told the group assembled at Yellowknife City Hall.

Participants weighed in with a variety of viewpoints on leadership. Hovak Johnston, who is behind the Inuit Tattoo Revitalization project, a project focused on the empowerment of women, said inclusion is key to effective leadership.

“To be a good leader you need to be mindful of all the people around you,” she said. “If you don’t have strong community, you can’t have a strong leader.”

Joe Handley is a former Premier of the Northwest Territories. He observed that engaged leadership is about stepping beyond what is customarily expected in much of society.

“It isn’t just about the elected leaders or the formal leaders. It is everyone,” he said. Handley pointed to Indigenous elders who have much wisdom and knowledge to share, but whose views can be overlooked.

“Too often we are too busy, and we don’t take the time to listen to people when they express themselves in a traditional way. It takes time. We have to listen, and not just speak.”