Meet Cambridge Bay coffee company Kaapittiaq's first full-time employee
Margaret Qutiaquq Oliver is learning the coffee production process in Barrie, Ont.
Margaret Qutiaquq Oliver takes her coffee with cream and a little bit of sugar.
"Can't be too sweet," she says.
This is pertinent information because Qutiaquq Oliver is the first full-time employee of Kaapittiaq, a coffee company based in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.
Kaapittiaq means "good coffee" in Inuinnaqtun. The Inuit-owned business is a social enterprise that puts 75 per cent of its annual revenue into the non-profit Pitkuhirnikkut Ilihautiniq/Kitikmeot Heritage Society, for the preservation and promotion of Inuinnait culture.
Qutiaquq Oliver, who started her job less than a month ago, is learning the whole coffee production process — from taking in coffee beans to packaging them once roasted — at Beaver Rock Roastery in Barrie, Ont.
Beaver Rock is a partner company that roasts Kaapittiaq's beans and provides training.
"It's really fun," she told Wanda McLeod on CBC North's Northwind. "Just learning about where the beans come from and how they're made, because I never thought of that before ... but now I get to see behind the scenes."
The job is also connecting her to her culture.
Qutiaquq Oliver was adopted by white parents and lives near Barrie. She says her parents didn't hide her Inuit heritage from her and taught her about her culture, but living in Ontario, she's often the only Inuk in the room.
"There's not many Inuit in the world, period, so we're definitely a cool people," she says.
"It makes me feel good to work for an organization run by other Inuit."
Qutiaquq Oliver wears her cultural pride on her body, literally — her hands and chin are adorned with Inuit hand-poked markings.
White people co-opted the tattoos, she says, but Inuit women are reclaiming them, and she's "super-proud" of hers.
Qutiaquq Oliver plans to visit Cambridge Bay one day, when she's saved enough money and the COVID-19 pandemic has calmed down.
"I'll get to see where the company started and how it impacts actual communities of the North," she says. "I don't see the impact because ... I live in the South."
Written by Sidney Cohen based on an interview with Wanda McLeod