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Indigenous circumpolar women leaders descend on Yellowknife

Over 100 prominent and emerging female leaders from across northern Canada and Alaska are gathering in Yellowknife today for the first ever Indigenous Circumpolar Women's Gathering.

110 prominent and emerging leaders gather for 1st Indigenous Circumpolar Women's Gathering

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      Over 100 prominent and emerging female leaders from across northern Canada and Alaska are gathering in Yellowknife today for the first ever Indigenous Circumpolar Women's Gathering.

      The event is organized by Dene Nahjo, a group of aboriginal and non-aboriginal young leaders in the N.W.T. Its goal is to develop leaders, with an emphasis on traditional skills and values.

      “We have lots of strong incredibly competent, incredibly brilliant indigenous women leaders,” says Sheila Bassi-Kellett, the group’s executive lead. “So we’ll be connecting a lot of those people with emerging leaders to be able to draw on the connections, establish  networks, look at the things that are going on in the circumpolar world that can lead to great collaboration.”

      Today’s keynote speaker is the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Sheila Watt-Cloutier, an Inuk from northern Quebec who made international headlines with her fight to raise awareness about climate change and its impact on Inuit.

      Marie Wilson, commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, will also attend, along with speakers Rosemarie Kuptana, Olympian Sharon Firth, and former CBC broadcaster Rassi Nashalik.

      Bassi-Kellett says even with a list like this, there still needs to be more aboriginal women in all levels of public office.

      “So that we do have that diversity in leadership positions whether they're policy makers, whether or not they're elected leaders. Let's continue to build that diversity there and build a representativeness.”

      Several women from Nunavut and Nunavik are making the trip, to join leaders from Alaska and the N.W.T. A delegation from Greenland had planned to attend, but political events at home prevented them from making the trip.

      The event takes place at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. It runs through November 14.