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AVIAQ JOHNSTON

Name(s): 

I have many names: Aviaq Ginny Mary Pavvik Akumalik Berthe Johnston. I am named after many women that my mum and dad dearly loved. Through my namesakes, I have many children, grandchildren and husbands 😉

Hometown:

I call Igloolik my hometown because it is where I lived the longest and some of the most important years of my life happened there, but ancestry is in Quebec. My mom is from Quaqtaq, Nunavik and my dad is from a small town outside of Montreal. Now, I live between Iqaluit and Ottawa for work, but I still emphasize that I grew up in Igloolik and that has an important role in who I am.

Favourite Inuit Niqini:

My favourite inuksiut are maktaaq (beluga kind), nattiminiq uujuq (boiled seal), and nirlirminiq uujuq (boiled goose). Every Sunday, we have a family dinner. We always try to make sure we have some country food to eat on Sundays, most often we have tuktuminiq or goose. We are always excited when we have maktaaq at my house, and nattiminiq (boiled, BBQ'd, roasted, frozen, raw) is always loved. I always have to post a picture of country food on Instagram when I have it!

What is your passion?

Education and travelling are two things that I have always loved. I've been privileged enough to have lived in Australia when I was 16 for four months. I went to school and lived with an Australian family. When I went back to Iqaluit, the credits I had gained in my Australian school couldn't transfer over so I had to work hard to graduate on time. It took me a while to learn that there are more forms of education than academia. We can learn from anything; from experience, from mistakes, from each other. I was in college for 5 years and found that I learn best in smaller classrooms where my classmates and I felt comfortable around each other and our professor. After a year in university with hundreds of classmates, my anxiety was through the roof, so I took time off to travel. I lived in Vietnam for a little while, in a tiny county called Yen Mong. By the time I came back to Canada I was ready to go back to school.

Who is your inspiration?

I am inspired by so many people, but the staff at Nunavut Sivuniksavut have been a big part of my life. Growing up, I never felt confidence in my Inukness. I couldn't speak Inuktitut very well (I still struggle sometimes), and I didn't really know a lot about traditional Inuit culture and customs. Through NS, I gained so much information about Inuit and about myself. Now I work at NS with some of the best people anyone could know 😃

Future plans/goals:

I want to keep writing books for Inuit youth. I like being able to tell stories about traditional Inuit life in a modern artform, and to tell stories about modern Inuit. I want to keep working at NS and seeing Inuit youth grow into strong and capable students and people. Someday, I would like to get a BA in Social Work, and eventually a Masters or PhD, but that is 30 years down the road haha

Inu-vative thoughts or programs:

In December, I am running a half-marathon for the Healthy Horizons Foundation! Healthy Horizons is committed to providing healthy and active programming to smaller communities where there aren't a lot of resources available for youth. 100% of donations go toward community youth through programs that promote nutrition, education and active living. In Nunavut, a major issue is in the lack of services for mental health, but healthy and active lifestyles are a huge step to wellness within our communities.

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