3 Inuit women honoured for advocacy on women's issues in Nunavut
Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council honours Hannah Benoit, Sarah Jancke, Maatali Okalik
Three Inuit women are being honoured for their commitment, activism and advocacy on women's issues by the Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council.
This year two young women, Maatali Okalik and Sarah Jancke, both involved in youth advocacy work, share the Outstanding Young Woman Award. Hannah Benoit, an elder from Rankin Inlet, won the Wise Woman Award.
"I'm just thankful for the Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council for the award and also for the creation of the award," said Okalik.
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Iqaluit's Okalik is the National Inuit Youth Council president and was awarded the honour for her leadership with the council and for her political advocacy work on youth issues.
"I think it's really encouraging that a council at the territorial level recognizes the work that volunteers and those in advocacy work like myself do," said Okalik.
Okalik said she shared this award with others involved in the National Inuit Youth Council.
"I think that young Inuit should pursue their dreams and shoot for the stars," said Cambridge Bay's Sarah Jancke, the other recipient of the Outstanding Young Woman Award.
"As young Inuit, it's up to us to create a balance between the traditional world of our ancestors and the changing world to create a bright future for ourselves and the next generation," said Jancke.
"We had quite a lengthy discussion and we decided to honour two because both are very active," said Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council president Elisapee Sheutiapik.
Benoit received the Wise Woman Award for her work as a counsellor and support worker and for her efforts to share her cultural knowledge and traditional skills.
"We chose someone who obviously has been a huge role model and working hard in the culture for quite some time," said Sheutiapik.
'As Inuit we were always thought to be humble'
Although dozens of women of all ages were nominated for the awards this year, there were some hamlets that did not have a single nominee, said Sheutiapik.
"As Inuit we were always thought to be humble so I think actually recognizing and putting someone on a pedestal is fairly new," she said.
She said that Qulliit is working on broadening its outreach to encourage more people to submit nominations in the future. She added that nominees don't need to be engaged in big projects such as national campaigns to be considered.
"There are so many different things you can do in the community, doesn't matter how big or small," she said.
Okalik said the award will help to raise the profile of her work.
"I encourage Inuit youth to continue in the dialogue that we're having at the national level, and I encourage youth to share what they're doing so well in their communities," said Okalik.
"Some people forget the fact that leadership skills exercised at the community level and the grassroots level is what has such a strong influence on the health of our communities and the future."
The awards were established in 2009 to honour women who are role models in their communities and provide outstanding volunteer, support, education and advocacy work.