North

Longtime northerner called to the bar, becomes Inuktitut-speaking lawyer

The former CBC North reporter delivered the news in both Inuktitut and English from 1996 to 2011.

Former CBC North reporter delivered news in both Inuktitut and English from 1996 to 2011

Jennifer Hunt-Poitras on CBC Northbeat on Aug. 2, 2019. Hunt-Poitras said going to law school was 'always in the back of my mind.' (CBC)

The North is one Inuktitut-speaking lawyer greater, after former CBC North reporter Jennifer Hunt-Poitras was called to the bar Friday. 

Hunt-Poitras delivered the news in fluent Inuktitut and English with CBC North from 1996 to 2011. She said going to law school was a decision she made later in life.

"It was always in the back of my mind," said Hunt-Poitras. "But you know, I had children, I had this amazing job with CBC ... but there just came a point." 

Hunt-Poitras said after her children were old enough to leave the house, she began to think of what to do next.

"I didn't want to settle," she said. "So I asked myself, if you had one regret, what would it be? And it was that I didn't go to law school." 

There will be lots of opportunities to use my language skills.- Jennifer Hunt-Poitras, lawyer with Lawson Lundell LLP

Hunt-Poitras attended the Royal Roads University for a bachelor in justice studies, then got her law degree at the University of Victoria. 

She articled with a Yellowknife law firm, and says she was the first law student allowed by both N.W.T. and Nunavut law societies to do two months of her articling in Nunavut with the territorial government's legal services. 

Jobs, life in Nunavut prepared her for law

Hunt-Poitras also worked with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as an Inuit Sub-Commission director.

She said her former jobs like with the commission, and growing up in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, helped her understand what the important issues are in the North.

"I felt like I had a responsibility to give back to my community, and also to the survivors," said Hunt-Poitras.

'I felt like I had a responsibility to give back to my community, and also to the survivors,' says Hunt-Poitras. (Submitted by Jennifer Hunt-Poitras)

She said one of the biggest issues she sees is the lack of access to justice. As a reporter, she said she was able to create opportunities for "people who were voiceless to be heard." 

Hunt-Poitras said her new job as a lawyer is a continuation of that work. 

Hunt-Poitras reported in both English and Inuktitut with CBC North from 1996 to 2011. (CBC)

As a lawyer with Lawson Lundell LLP in Yellowknife, Hunt-Poitras can continue to work both in the N.W.T. and Nunavut. 

"There will be lots of opportunities to use my language skills," she said.

Hunt-Poitras said she's looking forward to getting called to the bar in Nunavut, which will happen in the near future.

She celebrated being called to the Northwest Territories bar surrounded by loved ones Friday.

Written based on an interview by Juanita Taylor

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