Marie Pierre Chevrier is currently mandated by the Carrefour action municipale et famille, an NGO working in partnership with Québec’s Elders’ Secretariat, to accompany municipalities in developing their policy and action plan through the AFC process. Her previous experience with municipalities, as well as her involvement with women’s groups in Cameroun, laid the grounds for her intervention in Nunavik.
Marie Pierre Chevrier is a retired professionnal having worked as program developer for the Faculté de l’éducation permanente (FEP) at the Université de Montréal. She recently served as advisor for the development of an upcoming program concerning smart and livable cities.
Mme Chevrier had previously developed a regional approach to occupational health and safety, parity being central to working with both employers and unions.
MP Chevrier obtained a Master’s degree in anthropology from l’Université de Montréal and a previous Master’s degree in literature and linguistics from l’Université du Québec à Montréal.
She has served as member of the board for environmental NGO’S: Nature Québec and Conseil régional de l’environnement de la Montérégie, and represented the environmental sector on the regional committee for social economy.
Field work continues to be her preference. From teaching, to research, to intervention, her professional itinerary has been consistent with social mobilization, engagement in collective and senior housing, sensitizing to urban planning, all means contributing to the sustainable development goals.
AFC: a stepping stone for Nunavik’s Inuit elders
Benjamin Arreak was born in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, the eldest of a family of 13 siblings. From numerous moves and jobs, M. Arreak arrived in Pangnirtung Nunavut in 1972, for three years of training in theology. When ordained, he became clergy in the Diocese of the Arctic, for 35 years, and later became Suffragan Bishop of Nunavik serving communities in Nunavik and Nunavut.
In 2008, he received the degree of Doctor of Divinity (honoris Causa) from the University of Emmanuel College of St.Chad in Saskatchewan. For 33 years, he has been a member of the Translation group working to translate the Bible into Inuktitut. For fifteen years, he has coordinated the translators’ work. The final version was completed in 2012.
In 2013, he worked in communications for Tarramiut Nipingat Inc., the radio station, both as producer and broadcaster. In 2015, he joined the Kativik Regional and local development Department where he holds the position of Elders’ counselor and women issues.
Bobby Snowball is one of the great defenders and advocates of the Cooperative movement that is very active in Nunavik’s economy. Very early on, Mr. Snowball because the General Manager. Nowadays, the cooperative can count on its store and it’s hotel as a main source of income.
Later on, he was part of the movement introducing seasonal employment for guides and camp assistants through hunting and fishing tourism activities in Nunavik.
He has been President of the Regional Elders’ Committee since it’s creation in 2005. Mr, Snowball is an inuit elder who has very actively participated in numerous initiatives to better the lives of his community, whether it be in housing, partnering with the health board on issues of food security and access, or getting involved with youth protection. Mr. Snowball is a dedicated and active elder, who is a pride to his community.
Marie-Pierre McDonald holds a Bachelor in Landscape Architecture and a Masters in Architecture and affordable housing from McGill University. In 2012, she received the student excellence award from the Quebec Association of Landscape Architects with the project Wanaki, terre de leurs enfants which involved the relocation of the Kitcisakik community. After graduation, she has been working in Nunavik for the Kativik Regional Government as a land use planner, where she managed regional and municipal land use planning projects. Since June 2017, she has joined Groupe BC2, a land-use planning and development firm, as a project director working on Indigenous communities’ projects.
Introducing the Age Friendly Community process in Nunavik, has proven challenging but definitely rewarding. To succeed, it was necessary to adjust the approach to the northern realities and to propose means that were culturally respectful of the Inuit way of life, taking into account both the historical traumas and the more recent climatic changes that impact their living environments. One of the main goals of this presentation is to reflect on the pride and the empowerment of the elders, when they fully participate in the process. The whole community in turn benefits as elders actually become a mobilizing force for their communities. Transformations, entailed by moving from a nomadic people to gregarious establishments are of significant consequences for Inuit elders. Most elders speak Inuktitut only, while administrative and financial activities are conducted partially in French but mostly in English. The language barrier is but one of the challenges, often leading to exclusion. The younger generation, as in the south, has embraced digital means of communication, while elders rely on exemplifying cultural practices and oral transmission.
How then, can AFC contribute to active ageing for the Inuit elders of Nunavik, in the changing context of their lives? One of the objectives of the presentation is to expose the methodological adaptations required to adjust the process to the field realities. Indeed, the model Guides propose steps to be taken in order to draw up a realistic picture of living environments and accordingly, establishing a proper diagnosis. But the cognitive and cultural patterns, existing within different community dynamics, call for flexibility, sensitivity, and even humility, to allow an empowering process to follow its course. One has to accept a degree of risk, in introducing creative means of communication, both with stakeholders and with elders themselves. Consultation was done using symbols for consensus, and opening communication channels for exchange. Many problematic issues had to be met head on to reach solutions proposed by the elders and the regional stakeholders and develop the action plan. Examples of some of these issues will be given. Within the process, special attention has been given to elder knowledge regarding the safe keeping of the environment. Inuit elders’ expertise is precious for urban planning and land use development, but also to uphold sustainable development goals. The urban planner involved in the process will touch on the importance of engaging elder and community participation on these issues. Elders hold a wealth of territorial knowledge, but in the north as in the south, this cultural and natural heritage remains untapped. Engaging planners in the group of stakeholders is of primary importance. Their understanding of design as a means to plan favorable environments, encompassing social assets, calls for a comprehensive view of all necessary amenities within living communities.
Two elders from the Inuit community, both of whom are institutional representatives, will follow-up with reports on the trickle-down effect of the Kativik regional policy for Inuit elders and, the resulting AFC mobilization within the northern villages surrounding the Nunavik peninsula.