The Daughters of Mikak: Celebrating Women's Leadership in Nunatsiavut research project stems from discussions with people in Nunatsiavut on the consultation tour in 2014 for the Tradition and Transition among the Labrador Inuit (SSHRC) research project (PI: Tom Gordon). As part of the Tradition and Transition project, this research is driven by the goal to work collaboratively with Inuit of Nunatsiavut to better understand how cultural traditions can guide them into the future. In the consultations, Inuit identified the importance of women's leadership in Nunatsiavut communities, but also the need to more fully recognize, appreciate, and identify ways to support women's roles in strengthening communities.
One of the few regions to currently have a female President, Nunatsiavut has a long history of Inuit women leaders in every aspect of community life. It is often women who struggle with and overcome the challenges of maintaining healthy communities, so the continued ability of Inuit women to act as leaders within their communities is of fundamental importance for a successful future for the region. In this project, leadership means not only political involvement, but organizing, volunteer work, family work, and all the often unrecognized ways in which women work to create healthy communities.
The need to recognize and celebrate Inuit women's leadership is evident in both public and academic discourse. Even within the few studies that have focused on the role of Inuit women in Labrador, only a minority of the non-historical pieces are framed in positive, strength-based narratives. As Tuck and Yang (2014) argue, moving away from pain-based or victim research narratives towards desire-based narratives "does not deny the experience of tragedy, trauma, and pain, but positions the knowing derived from such experiences as wise" and can help to humanize research (Tuck and Yang 2014: 231). This research project's celebratory framework embraces productive research outcomes and community-led analysis of the strengths and future possibilities for Inuit women.
The research has four goals:
1) to document and celebrate the achievements and history of Inuit women's leadership in Nunatsiavut in collaboration with Inuit organizations, individuals, and the Nunatsiavut Government;
2) to provide a forum for Nunatsiavut Inuit to identify and celebrate Inuit women leaders in their lives, and to discuss ways in which women's leadership can be further supported;
3) to provide a forum for Inuit women to express and analyze their experiences of self-governance under Nunatsiavut, and to envision a future that more fully represents their perspectives and needs; and
4) to ensure that all aspects of the project involve community co-researchers, reflect community goals and interests, and provide training and other tangible community benefits.
We aim to celebrate women leaders in a number of ways:
- Creating short digital stories of people expressing their appreciation of inspiring Nunatsiavut women and describing their impact on them (to be posted online, screened at community events, and shown at Illusuak, etc.)
- Creating a series of radio vignettes about inspiring women for OK Society radio
- Creating a Them Days issue dedicated to Labrador women (March 2017)
- Creating a coffee table book of stories about and tributes to inspiring Nunatsiavut women
Our Facebook site will act as one point of contact for the project: https://www.facebook.com/DaughtersofMikak/
The Tradition & Transition project also has its own website that helps to communicate Daughters of Mikak media pieces: http://www.traditionandtransition.com