Nunavut’s former health minister Levinia Brown of Rankin Inlet said she was proud to be asked to be a keynote speaker at the International Congress on Circumpolar Health in Copenhagen, Denmark, this past Aug. 15.
Brown spoke to the delegates about the changes she’s seen in Inuit Nunangat in her lifetime, from 1940 to today, telling the gathering that it was not all that long ago Inuit looked after each other as best as they could.
She told the delegates Inuit have come a long way since those days of having no doctors or nurses, with Nunavut now having its very own nursing program.
“I was honoured to be asked to speak,” said Brown. “The keynote speakers from the different countries were absolutely moving and inspiring. There was much to learn from all the participating countries in relation to their knowledge and depth of their experiences and connection to the international network for Circumpolar Health Research and Congress.”
Brown, who was also heavily involved with health initiatives while residing in Winnipeg for six years, said she was enlightened to see so many participants from Nunavut at the conference.
She said while the agenda was heavy at the gathering, there was still time to enjoy the area and its people.
“The people there were so very, very friendly and always ready to help out if you needed it.
“I didn’t buy too much because I struggled a bit understanding their money,” she said with a chuckle.
“I had some of my cash exchanged to their currency, but I really found it strange to use.
“I did get out and see some of the sights and it was a pleasure to visit the Greenlandic House.”
Brown said she owes a debt of thanks to Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (flights), the Circumpolar Health Conference (accommodations and fees) and OngomiiZwin (University of Manitoba per diem and incidental costs) for making her trip possible.
She said the conference was an absolute must to attend and a great opportunity to learn as much as possible from the presenters and researchers.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the conference and experience beautiful Copenhagen.
“I sincerely appreciate the efforts and hospitality of everyone involved – Dr. Anders Koch (president of the International Union for Circumpolar Health), whom I had the pleasure of meeting in person, the International Union for Circumpolar Health (conference organizer) and the Danish Greenlandic Society for Circumpolar Health (local organizer).
“My Canadian team – from the University of Manitoba’s Ongomiizwin organization – gave me full support while in Copenhagen and I also thank them for escorting me around, keeping me company and often entertaining me.”
“It was, overall, an incredible experience.”