Born in February 1983 to an Inuit social worker mother and a blue-collar union representative father, Jennifer received early encouragement from her parents to continue her education. She studied social sciences at John Abbott College in Montreal and sociology at Concordia University. This aspiration to improve the lives of the Inuit people in Nunavik, the President of the Kativik Regional Administration (KRG) developed it through the testimonies of three outstanding Inuit women known for their achievements and their dedication to supporting Inuit identity and culture, namely Minnie Grey, Mary Simon and Sheila Watt-Cloutier.
Now a mother of two children aged 11 and 13, the Kuujjuaq-raised leader tells us, "I am fighting for my people, to preserve our identity, our way of life, our language and the use of our land." Affirming her pride in being Canadian, she recalls the need to express with energy the vision, values and dreams of the Inuit people of Nunavik on the political scenes of Québec and Canada. Welcoming, the determined young woman recalls the appropriateness of unconditional support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. "The discrimination once inflicted on indigenous peoples is not far away... We must remember the struggles to have the Aboriginal peoples rights respected, the abuses in schools and the massacre of sled dogs by the police in the 1950s and 1960s.
Fortunately, the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and subsequent agreements allowed the Inuit people to stand up and negotiate the uses of the land, the financing of our societies, etc." With the echo of a father once present in local governance, Jennifer mastering Inuktitut, English and French developed a love of politics when she sat on the high school student council. "I want my children to be open to the world in our globalized society. With regret I see the high level of school dropout in Nunavik, it breaks my heart. It is imperative that our people have access to post-secondary education here in Kuujjuaq”.
"The challenge for our people is to develop the capacity to adapt to global markets and the monetization of all goods and services while maintaining Inuit culture and way of life based on the land's resources. We need to ensure that Inuit voices are heard in international forums and conferences and across Canada. Other global challenges are of concern for the leader. She points out at adaptation to climate change. "Changes in the environment and ecosystems are already disrupting hunting and fishing practices and jeopardizing food security. Common approaches to environmental protection at all scales (regional, national, international) are becoming essential and the Inuit are part of it."
Her work on the KRG Board of Directors is complex and affects the lives of all Inuit in Nunavik. First, she recalls negotiations with the various levels of government to obtain the necessary resources to improve the functioning and quality of education. She added: "The efforts of all actors must aim to improve public services, whether it is health, access to housing, food strategy, and the fight against alcohol and drug addictions, including access to a treatment location for the afflicted.
As an epilogue, Jennifer takes a look at the values she wants to share. "The use of the Inuktitut language and a healthy relationship with the nourishing land is our guarantee of survival. The sharing of this wealth is a common feature of our communities, as is the sharing of the hunt catches. Our people is welcoming and we recognize the great respect for the elders. Helping those in need and humility are also values I have been taught... ».
When you meet an Inuk from the Arctic, you immediately notice his or her enthusiasm when the person talks about the land. Well, Jennifer's face rejoices when she recounts her winter adventures: fishing on frozen lakes or on the Koaksoak River - imagine the big catches of Arctic char !