Daughters of Mikak Celebrating Inuit Women's Leadership in Nunatsiavut
Tracy Ann Evans-Rice
The Daughters of Mikak project encouraged people of Nunatsiavut to tell stories of strength, of wisdom, and of love. Narratives about Indigenous women have sometimes focused on other things, but this project aimed to re-frame and re-affirm a narrative created by and about Inuit women in Nunatsiavut that recognized and celebrated strength. And there’s so much strength to celebrate!
The idea behind this project originated with community consultations that a group of us did with Tom Gordon in the fall of 2014 for the Tradition & Transition Research Partnership. A number of people in Nunatsiavut, including Charlotte Wolfrey, talked about the history of amazing Inuit women in the region, and that many of them were not recognized for all the work that they did. This project developed from these discussions, as a partnership between the Nunatsiavut Government Status of Women Office, AnânauKatiget Tumingit Regional Inuit Women’s Association, Memorial University researcher, Andrea Procter, and an advisory working group of women from across Nunatsiavut.
We focused on telling stories because narratives are powerful—they frame our understanding of ourselves, of others, of our relationships, and our shared histories. We worked with people of Nunatsiavut to create digital stories about the inspirational Inuit women in their lives. These stories were then shared on a Facebook site, and shared widely throughout Nunatsiavut, as we built a narrative around admiration for strong Inuit women. To date, we’ve made over 44 digital stories for the Facebook site, and they’ve been viewed over 40,000 times. Some of these stories also formed part of a Them Days magazine issue about Labrador women in March 2017, as well as a Newfoundland Quarterly article in December 2017.
People have made digital stories about women they admire for a number of reasons—their ability to teach others about traditional Inuit ways, their ability to connect with others and to create community, their drive to pursue their goals, and their perseverance through difficult times in their lives. It’s this strength-based approach that we’ve based the whole project on—an approach that focuses on people’s abilities, wisdom, and experiences. There’s a lot of strength in Nunatsiavut communities and women, and this project aimed to build on this strength by recognizing and celebrating the historical and contemporary leadership roles that Inuit women play in creating and maintaining healthy communities in Nunatsiavut.