My name is Alex, and I am a PhD candidate in Public Health at the University of Guelph. Broadly, I work at the intersection of human and environmental well-being. Specifically, my research uses participatory, community-based methods to develop deeper understandings of how changes in the environment impact various dimensions of wellbeing from the perspectives of Inuit living in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, Labrador.
I am one small part of a much larger team working on this project, which you can learn more about here, here, and here. Also here. Our team is comprised of Northern and Southern researchers, local and regional governments, as well as Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Everything we do is led and driven by our community partners. Together, we’re working to create and support adaptive pathways for dealing with environmental change that enhance well-being in innovative, culturally-safe, and community-centered ways.
It’s a privilege to be working with people that are as committed to building relationships as they are to the research project itself. I’m challenged, inspired, and humbled by each of them.
It’s also an immense privilege to be working in Nunatsiavut (“Our Beautiful Land” in Inuttitut). A part of my spirit comes alive only when my feet are planted on that land and when my lungs are breathing in that air. That being said, I also acknowledge that no matter how much I love visiting Nunatsiavut, I will always be just that. A visitor. I will never know the kind of love that Inuit in Nunatsiavut — Nunatsiavummiut — hold for their homeland. All I can say is that I’m grateful to have the opportunity to visit; with each trip, I learn a little bit more about how powerful that love is.
As a fledgling researcher, I’m learning just how important it is to step back, listen, and create spaces that privilege Indigenous voices. I’m learning how important it is to keep Inuit voices, values, and wisdom at the heart of all conversations, decisions, and actions. I’m learning where my place is within this larger process of reconciliation in Canada; I plan on continuing to work and serve from that place as best I can and for as long as I can.