Message from the Executive Director
I am so pleased to be working as the Manitoba Inuit Association’s Executive Director since August 2013. This is a homecoming, of sorts, for me as I can continue my work with the Inuit but back in my home province of Manitoba after being away for a decade in the Arctic. Working with Manitoba Inuit Association (MIA) has a deeply personal connection for me as this also provides my son with connections to his Inuit culture, language and community. It is also my opportunity to give back to the Inuit. I lived in Canada’s Arctic for 10 years and had the honor of working with some of the most amazing Inuit Elders who entrusted me with their teachings of traditional Inuit knowledge and insights into the intergenerational legacy of the Indian residential schools. This has changed the course of my career and personal life.
Working at MIA, has challenged the public sector paradigm in which I have spent most of my career, whether it was my years working “front-line” in community mental health, or re-designing mental health and addiction services in the Nunavut and Northwest Territories or infusing national addiction research and policy with Indigenous knowledge and its historical contexts. I have always prided myself in working alongside Indigenous communities, Elders, leaders and organizations. But what I didn’t have a full appreciation for was the enormous mandates of Indigenous organizations and agencies, that must not only challenge the status quo and improve the socio-economic outcomes of those they represent but overcome the ongoing challenges of maintaining organizational sustainability and relevance, all while juggling measurable change to systems and most importantly, positive impacts in people's lives.
The Manitoba Inuit Association (MIA) represents Inuit living in Manitoba and we are very honored to be entrusted with this mandate. We pay homage to the ingenuity of Inuit and their demonstrated mastery of skills and knowledge that enabled them to survive for generations in spite of the harsh Arctic environment. We recognize that we must embody that intergenerational adaptation and “thinking outside the box” worldview, in order to be relevant to Inuit and their specific needs while living in Manitoba.
We witness the continued challenges faced by Inuit and their families when they must relocate from their northern, remote Inuit communities to southern/urban centers for varied intervals of time, in order to access employment or post-secondary school and advanced training opportunities. Or those Inuit who come out of necessity, in order to access health services that are not available in their region or community. MIA will continue to provide dynamic Inuit-specific programs and services that embody Inuit principles and values, and ensure opportunities to strengthen connections to Inuit culture, language and community while living in more urban landscapes of Manitoba.
In closing, I want to celebrate the new MIA logo. It pays homage to the ingenuity and resilience of the Inuit both past and present. Whether it’s the use of snow-blocks that encircle our logo as a way to honor their amazing ingenuity and adaptability in their creating iglus. Or honoring Inuit resilience as depicted in the colors of the logo – blues, oranges and reds – representing the freeze and thaw of the water, rebounding of the Arctic fauna after 11 months of winter and return of the sun after dipping down behind the horizon for so many months.
I invite you to peruse our new website and learn more about who we are and what we are doing in your community and encourage you to consider volunteer opportunities either on our board of directors, with in our programs and services or at our events. And please consider further involvement in our organization and community through becoming a member of the Manitoba Inuit Association as a person of Inuit descent, a non-Inuk who has personal or professional connections and investments in the health and well being of Inuit or an organization that is interfacing with our community.
I hope over time, you will come to know MIA as the Inukshuk. MIA would like to be that beacon of hope, the safety of the "higher ground" and guide that supports Inuit living in Manitoba.