Qarjuit, bootcamp and food feast

Ariella Orbach, for exeko

Qarjuit, bootcamp and food feast

500,000 km2. One-third of Québec’s landmass. Fifteen communities, separated by taiga, tundra and an obligatory flight (or two, or three) aboard Air Inuit. The young members of Qarjuit Youth Council’s board of directors are responsible for representing, supporting and advocating for Inuit youth across this vast territory: the 14 communities of Nunavik and the Cree community of Chisasibi (where a small population of Inuit live).

Having previously facilitated teambuilding activities and workshops at Qarjuit’s 2018 Annual General Meeting, Exeko was invited to return to Nunavik to deliver an intensive, two-day Community Mobilization Bootcamp for Qarjuit’s board members. Our goal: to create a space for these youth to deepen their understanding of their role in the organization, ask questions and learn from each other, and co-create tools that will help them confidently fulfill their mandate as board members. We were also there to help the board members prepare for their upcoming Youth Tour, during which they will travel in pairs to the five communities that they each represent to meet with youth, inform them about the organization and consult with them on their priorities.

With this mission before us, I boarded an Air Inuit flight bright and early on a Sunday morning with Max, one of Exeko’s Nunavik veterans. This was both a first facilitation mandate for me with Exeko, and a first visit to Inuit territory in Québec. We landed in Inukjuak and were warmly welcomed by Aleashia, Qarjuit’s passionate President. Max and I had chosen to arrive a day early to give us time to meet some key people and ensure a clear understanding of Qarjuit’s needs and expectations, which is always easier done in person. Indeed, experience has taught me that properly “arriving” in a community is an invaluable part of doing one’s job well – particularly when working in Indigenous communities where forging human relationships and building trust are paramount. Our instinct paid off: we were given a tour of the community and introduced to inspiring people heading up important initiatives for the various Inuit organizations with offices in Inukjuak (many of whom generously offered us t-shirts, knapsacks, pens and swag of all sorts – it was Christmas in March!). We were invited to dinner at Aleashia’s house and had a chance to get to know each other in a more informal setting. We were able to join in welcoming the arriving board members at the airport. Their energy and enthusiasm were contagious, and we felt ready to jump into our Bootcamp.

Community Mobilization Bootcamp, day one.

We spent the next two days working with the board members on three areas: fostering a sense of empowerment through a solid understanding of their role as board members and the individual skills and strengths that will help them fulfill this role; learning how to reach out to youth in engaging ways and build networks of support in preparation for their Youth Tour; and planning and preparing fun activities to gather youth during the Youth Tour. In proper Exeko style, much of this material was delivered through teambuilding activities, role playing, costume, laughter, and our giant map of Nunavik.

Board members’ skills, strengths and expected challenges transposed onto the map of Nunavik.

The board members’ motivation and eagerness to learn was palpable. By the end of the two days, the training room was plastered with papers that recorded our brainstorms, questions, advice, planning tools and suggested outreach and engagement techniques. All along, we had had been subtly co-creating a series of tools that would help the board members to carry out their mandate with confidence and plan a successful and engaging Youth Tour. On our third day together, it was time for the Qarjuit board to meet, plan and vote in a new Executive. Max and I quietly put together a work station off to the side and spent the day transforming and consolidating the content that covered the room’s walls into a co-created toolkit for the board members – a hard copy of the previous two days meant to enable the board members to continue building on their learning and put it into practice.

As our time together drew to an end, board member Angel suggested that we close with a sharing circle. During that circle, Max and I heard from all the board members that the Bootcamp was very appreciated and helped them feel more prepared and confident. The group was particularly excited by the co-created toolkit and the chance to take something concrete home from the training.

In the context of such a vast territory, where significant effort must be mobilized to coordinate face-to-face meetings, it was important for the board members to maximize their time together – time spent not only in work but in fun. Our icebreakers and teambuilding activities helped facilitate these important moments, as did a wonderful country food feast hosted by Aleashia on our last night together. As we sat around eating frozen caribou and ptarmigan with uluit, as Max proved his skill in cutting thin slices of caribou meat for nikkuk (caribou jerky), we all had a chance to further forge those human relationships that are so important in this line of work.

Country food feast.
Caribou prepared for nikkuk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Ariella Orbach, facilitator

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  • « By engaging with people on a deep level, we see Exeko reinvigorating individual spirit to rebuild society in a new way. Exeko's work is not about small projects, but about achieving full social inclusion at a systemic level. [...] we believe that Exeko will reach a level of systemic impact with Quebec, Canada and the world within 5-10 years. »

    Elisha Muskat, Executive Director, Ashoka Canada

  • « Its goal? To develop reasoning, critical thinking, logic, and increase citizen participation of these marginalized groups. »

    Caroline Monpetit, Le Devoir (free translation)

  • «  I write my thoughts in my head, not on paper, and my thought is not lost. »

    Participant @PACQ

  • « Why use paper when it is as beautiful as this? »

    One of the co-creator for Métissage Urbain

  • « I Have my own identity ! »

    Putulik, Inuit participant, Métissage Urbain

  • « It is terrible for a society to ignore people with such talent! »

    Hélène-Elise Blais, les Muses about ART and ID projects

  • « Art has the advantage to make people talk about abilities rather than limitations, when confronted with an intellectual disability.  »

    Delphine Ragon, Community Programs Manager, Les Compagnons de Montréal

  • « Over the past few years, we have been seeing more and more high quality productions by people with an intellectual disability who truly are artists.  »

    Julie Laloire @AMDI

  • « Exeko implements creative solutions to several problematic, gives a voice to those we don't hear and hope to the underprivileged. »

    Bulletin des YMCA

  • « Its goal? To develop reasoning, critical thinking, logic, and increase citizen participation of these marginalized groups. »

    Caroline Monpetit, Le Devoir (free translation)

  • « ...empowering the children, and giving them confidence »

    APTN National News

  • « It’s a great program for children to learn about their traditions and to increase their interaction with Elders in the community. »

    Erika Eagle, Social Development Assistant with Waswanipi Brighter Future

  • « We are not higher, we are not lower, we are equal. »

    Simeoni, participant idAction Mobile

  • « Receving is good, but giving is better »

    Participant [email protected]

  • « They're both people. We're not looking enough after people with problems, and mostly with mental health issues. Then we would have more people able to work. »

    Participant, [email protected] Bonneau

  • « What better way to strengthen intergenerational ties? [...] A meeting between peers, a place for expression, learning and recovery »

    Chantal Potvin, reporter at Innuvelle

  • «  I don't know everything, but while reading it, it always bring me one step closer »

    A participant, idAction Mobile

  • «  By engaging with people on a deep level, we see Exeko reinvigorating individual spirit to rebuild society in a new way. Exeko's work is not about small projects, but about achieving full social inclusion at a systemic level. [...] we believe that Exeko will reach a level of systemic impact with Quebec, Canada and the world within 5-10 years. »

    Elisha Muskat, Executive Director, Ashoka Canada

  • «  ...empowering the children, and giving them confidence »

    APTN National News

  • «  I was completely alone today, thanks for talking to me »

    Elie, participant @idAction Mobile

  • «  They're both people. We're not looking enough after people with problems, and mostly with mental health issues. Then we would have more people able to work. »

    Participant, [email protected] Bonneau

  • «  Today, the power acquired through knowledge is more far-reaching than knowledge itself. »

    André Frossard

  • « By engaging with people on a deep level, we see Exeko reinvigorating individual spirit to rebuild society in a new way. Exeko's work is not about small projects, but about achieving full social inclusion at a systemic level. [...] we believe that Exeko will reach a level of systemic impact with Quebec, Canada and the world within 5-10 years.»
    Elisha Muskat, Executive Director, Ashoka Canada
  • « Exeko implements creative solutions to several problematic, gives a voice to those we don't hear and hope to the underprivileged.»
    Bulletin des YMCA
  • « Over the past few years, we have been seeing more and more high quality productions by people with an intellectual disability who truly are artists. »
    Julie Laloire @AMDI
  • « Art has the advantage to make people talk about abilities rather than limitations, when confronted with an intellectual disability. »
    Delphine Ragon, Community Programs Manager, Les Compagnons de Montréal
  • « It is terrible for a society to ignore people with such talent!»
    Hélène-Elise Blais, les Muses about ART and ID projects
  • « I Have my own identity !»
    Putulik, Inuit participant, Métissage Urbain
  • « Why use paper when it is as beautiful as this?»
    One of the co-creator for Métissage Urbain
  • « I write my thoughts in my head, not on paper, and my thought is not lost.»
    Participant @PACQ
  • « Its goal? To develop reasoning, critical thinking, logic, and increase citizen participation of these marginalized groups.»
    Caroline Monpetit, Le Devoir (free translation)
  • « Its goal? To develop reasoning, critical thinking, logic, and increase citizen participation of these marginalized groups.»
    Caroline Monpetit, Le Devoir (free translation)
  • « Today, the power acquired through knowledge is more far-reaching than knowledge itself.»
    André Frossard
  • « They're both people. We're not looking enough after people with problems, and mostly with mental health issues. Then we would have more people able to work.»
    Participant, [email protected] Bonneau
  • « They're both people. We're not looking enough after people with problems, and mostly with mental health issues. Then we would have more people able to work.»
    Participant, [email protected] Bonneau
  • « We are not higher, we are not lower, we are equal.»
    Simeoni, participant idAction Mobile
  • « I was completely alone today, thanks for talking to me»
    Elie, participant @idAction Mobile
  • « Receving is good, but giving is better»
    Participant [email protected]
  • « What better way to strengthen intergenerational ties? [...] A meeting between peers, a place for expression, learning and recovery»
    Chantal Potvin, reporter at Innuvelle
  • «  ...empowering the children, and giving them confidence»
    APTN National News
  • « By engaging with people on a deep level, we see Exeko reinvigorating individual spirit to rebuild society in a new way. Exeko's work is not about small projects, but about achieving full social inclusion at a systemic level. [...] we believe that Exeko will reach a level of systemic impact with Quebec, Canada and the world within 5-10 years.»
    Elisha Muskat, Executive Director, Ashoka Canada
  • « It’s a great program for children to learn about their traditions and to increase their interaction with Elders in the community.»
    Erika Eagle, Social Development Assistant with Waswanipi Brighter Future
  • « ...empowering the children, and giving them confidence»
    APTN National News