How Daphné-Anne Takpanie promotes Inuit identity with Inuit youth in Montreal
'The North, it's in our blood, it's in our genes'
Montreal may be lonely for young Inuit adopted by Montreal families.
Daphné-Anne Takpanie knows this firsthand, so she's using her experiences to help others in the same situation. She volunteers with Inuit in the city and is one of 19 youth ambassadors tasked with developing a youth conference in conjunction with Montreal's 375th birthday.
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Takpanie was born in Iqaluit, but her biological mom offered her up for adoption to a family from Montreal living in Iqaluit when she was born.
Though she grew up 2,000 kilometres away from her birthplace, her adoptive family made sure she felt connected to her heritage.
'I was always trying to find myself, I'd had big questions in my life," she said.
Through time spent at an Inuit cultural centre in Montreal, Takpanie interacted with Inuit mentors and children her own age. She says the time spent there and communication with her biological family in Iqaluit helped her maintain links that might have been lost.
"It's not like I lost everything," she said. "It's something beautiful."
"The North, it's in our blood, it's in our genes. If I'd never had this opportunity to be with them, I'd be lost," she said.
'I'm telling them my story'
Now, at 23, Takpanie has a strong relationship with her brother and biological mom in Iqaluit. She also volunteers at the Inuit centre in Montreal, acting as a role model to other Inuit children in a similar situation.
"I'm telling them my story and they are feeling like they are not alone and they can become someone," she said. "I'm playing with them, I'm talking with them and it's beautiful seeing their eyes when they see someone like me."
As part of her role in Montreal's 375th birthday, she will work with youth organizations across the city, sharing her dream for Montreal in 25 years. It will culminate in a conference in the spring.
"It was very important for me when I was young to see First Nations [as role models]. Because the media often shows the negative stories," she said.
"I think it is the same thing for them, they want to go to school, to explore, to not be scared to do something else."