This year’s Jane Glassco fellows met in Yellowknife for the first time last week to begin their work in a policy and leadership program that helps northerners “build a strong North.”
Over the next year and a half, participants aged 25 to 35 in the Jane Glassco Northern Fellowship program will also gather in Whitehorse, Iqaluit, and Ottawa to take part in policy skills training, networking, and mentorship opportunities.
At the same time, each of the program’s 14 new fellows will complete their own public policy research.
Half of this year’s fellows live in the NWT: Jordee Reid, Shawna McLeod, Ashley Okrainec, Marlisa Brown, Alyssa Carpenter, Shëné Catholique-Valpy, and Garrett Hinchey.
Many NWT participants plan to focus their research on priorities outlined in the new territorial government’s mandate for the next four years: housing, settling land claims, food security, and mental health.
“I just really love the North and care about the North,” said Reid, who will study the sale of wild meat and its broader implications for NWT food security.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity … to be able to be given the space to dedicate some time to research something that I am passionate about.”
Reid’s family has ties to Rocher River and Fort Resolution, but growing up in Yellowknife distanced her from a traditional lifestyle.
“My whole life, I felt slightly disconnected from my people and the Indigenous part of me,” she said. “My family doesn’t really hunt or trap any more, because we’re physically not on our traditional land.”
Over the next year and a half, Reid will explore how to make wild game more accessible in a way that is culturally respectful while increasing food security.
Reflecting on the first few days of the program, Reid said: “It’s been a lot of information but very good. My brain has been working out, pumping iron.”
‘This impacts the stories we tell’
Brown and McLeod, who also both live in Yellowknife, will research self-government. McLeod’s work will also examine land claims and Dene history.
“I really want to use this platform to educate myself on better understanding what is going on in the Northwest Territories,” she said.
Brown hopes to increase awareness and improve education of self-government agreements so that the people of the NWT can be better informed and so Indigenous communities can determine their own futures.
Okrainec, who lives in Inuvik, wants to look at “more holistic programming that could help the social aspects of the housing issues.”
Carpenter, a social worker originally from the Western Arctic who is currently living in Yellowknife, will research mental health and suicide prevention in remote communities.
“I’m going to be looking at some contributing factors, and really building upon what is there or making recommendations on what we can improve because I know it’s an issue that impacts all of us here,” she said.
Like Carpenter, Yellowknifer Hinchey – a reporter and producer at CBC North – will study policy related to his career.
“I think at CBC especially, we have this culture – they call it ‘the university of the North’ – it’s this place where people come, get some experience, and take off. And I think that’s problematic,” he said.
“I think a lot of people are doing really good work and they’re good people, but I think it impacts the stories that we tell and the way we tell them.”
Hinchey wants to build on work he’s done already to decrease barriers for northerners aiming to get involved in the media industry – like an internship program he’s piloting right now – and turn his goal into policy that will affect things like hiring, training, and storytelling practices across the North.
According to the website of the Gordon Foundation, which organizes the fellowshp program, Catholique-Valpy – who was not available for interview – plans to continue advocacy work to change the NWT’s policy regarding language and traditional name spelling.