Conference inspiring Gwich’in to pursue studies

Participants at the Next 40 GTC Education Conference. Photo Credit - GTC

Getting more Gwich’in to pursue their post-secondary education, that’s the goal of this third annual Next 40 Gwich’in Tribal Council’s Academic Conference in Inuvik.

Janelle Wilson is a cultural revitalization intern with GTC. She attended last year’s conference as a participant, and helped organize this year’s, which is the first to be held in the Gwich’in Settlement Area.

“This year the theme is spirituality, culture and language. There’s drum making in the evening along with beading which is hosted by Dickson Designs. And while they’re beading they’re learning some of the language with Annie Smith,” Wilson told CKLB.

There’s a total of 22 participants, some from the region, two from the Tlicho and others who grew up outside the NWT.

Autumn Schnell is making her first visit to Inuvik. Schnell says she’s gained more cultural knowledge this week.

“My personal favorite so far was talking with our President Bobbi Jo. She did a testimonial on the first day, it was so interesting hearing her story. I really enjoy the beading in the evenings. It’s really exciting, I know Gwich’in women were always leaders, but it’s nice seeing we’re reconnecting with that and really being able to embrace our culture, it’s empowering for me as well,” explained Schnell.

Schnell is planning on studying Animal biology next year at UBC, but says she’s inspired to perhaps take a look at law after hearing Elaine Alexie’s presentation.

The first Next 40 Conference held at Memorial University in St. John’s Newfoundland focused on culture. Last year’s was at Carleton University in Ottawa and focused on Self Government.

This conference wraps up on Friday.

About the Author

Josh Campbell
Josh Campbell has returned to the CKLB News Team. He covered female university soccer and volleyball in New Brunswick, prior to graduating from Loyalist College in Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ontario in 2007. He's covered politics and Indigenous stories in both the NWT and Yukon over the last 10 years.

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