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‘I simply want to use my voice,’ says community leader and women’s advocate Amber Aglukark

Mother, advocate, city councillor, and President of the Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council
Amber Aglukark stands beside the Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council table at the craft fair and music event the organization held in conjunction with International Women’s Day on March 8 at the Cadet Hall in Iqaluit. Kira Wronska Dorward/NNSL Media

Amber Aglukark, president of Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council, in addition to her new role as city councillor, first got involved with community leadership and advocacy as a result of dog-sledding.

Coming from a long line of mushers, Aglukark “really started with my passion for this work here in [Iqaluit], training and running a dog-team and having my son included. I had a desire [to be part] of a group that [promotes] the culture of Nunavut and wanting to be a part of that [process], as well as being a mother and daughter in this territory, and how I could pass [our traditions] on… I wanted to ensure that the tradition continues with my son and his children.”

While she helped to support a dog-team, when dealing with policy, she “naturally came into a leadership role.”

“Even if you can’t speak Inuktitut, you can still be involved with Inuit culture,” she said.

Aglukark explains how the dog-sledding advocacy transitioned into women’s advocacy.

“Not many women were [traditionally] in dog-teaming. The main mode of transportation was designed for the men. It’s now 2024. We are just as strong. We are just as capable of taking on [that role], and the role of empowering our peers, empowering our community. So when the Qulliit opportunity came along, I knew it was a great way to take forward my advocacy to a new landscape.”

Aglukark has been president of Qulliit since October 2022.

“It’s been an eye-opener — an education on how we provide Nunavummiut of all different backgrounds with the [history and traditions of the territory],” she says.

Qulliit is an advisory council comprising nine female members of different backgrounds from across Nunavut. They are appointed by the minister responsible for the Status of Women, each serving a one- to three-year term.

The body was created in April 2001 as part of the Council of Women Act (1999), and “supports changes and advocates for change in issues affecting women, in education, health, justice, economic development, housing, employment, leadership and culture.”

The organization’s main priorities centre around promoting awareness of gendered violence, with such events as the Dec. 6 National Day of Remembrance and Violence Against Women, and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG — or Red Shirt Day) event set for May 5 this year. Regarding the latter, Qulliit has put a territory-wide call-out for artists to contribute their works for consideration in the event presentation. Other areas of dedication are cultural preservation, particularly the furthering of accessibility of education and services for women in underserved communities on topics including reproductive health and sexual education.

“Nunavummiut know the work we do is for good reason, whether its dog-sledding, or sewing, or art in any form… the work that we provide, the meetings that we attend, the things on our vision board, the events we put on, is in order to provide those sage places [for women]. The work we put in is for a strong present and future Nunavut by providing the platform to talk forward and take a stand… It’s meaningful work we we want to provide as women and give back to our territory.”

She also keeps her son and other youth in mind to “ensure the voice I have [through Qulliit] plays a role in the next generation — my son’s generation… I want to leave behind a legacy for [him].

Aglukark recently took on another leadership role as Iqaluit’s newest city councillor, sworn in Feb. 27.

“I’m finding it more concentrated, more serious work. From my advocacy work, I can provide insight I’ve seen as Qulliq president [to my role as councillor].”

For other young women in the community looking to pursue work as advocates for women, Aglukark has a message.

“The work I have come to achieve is purely from my own willingness [to volunteer]. The work we do…is [motivated] by the passion our council shares to [being] a safe space facilitator.

“I simply want to use my voice to show that women can be just as loved and valued.”

About the Author: Kira Wronska Dorward

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