One thing that has always been consistent for Inuujaq Leslie Fredlund was the world of art. Fredlund has been living in Rankin Inlet, NU, for over 20 years and moved around a lot when she was younger, living in Fort Smith, Qikiqtarjuaq, Arctic Bay, and Pond Inlet.
Fredlund is an entrepreneur and has a business called Maybe Somewhere, where she sells Inuit, Nunavummiut, and Indigenous products.
“With my business what I do I’m selling jewelry, arts, craft, clothing, accessories, even cosmetics, all from Inuit, Nunavummiut, and Indigenous suppliers,” said Fredlund.
But because she started this company by herself, Fredlund knew she had to start off small. Currently, what she does is sell by pop-up shops and picks different locations.
With COVID-19, she says she’s been posting on social media and will do local deliveries, and has even made shipments to other places.
But her ultimate goal is to get an enclosed mobile trailer so she can take her shop anywhere in town.
“I could park in different locations. Maybe tie it into an event or like, if there’s a softball tournament going on, I can park by the ball field, or if there’s a hockey tournament, I can park around there, or even if I can go up the road and be a bit more on the land, just to kind of make it a bit fun and unique,” said Fredlund.
Fredlund has a lot of ideas with her business, and says what motivated her to start it was being a mom with four children.
She says when she finished high school she never really got dead set on a specific career and really enjoyed being able to work at a lot of different places in between having children.
Fredlund says she has worked in a lot of different fields, including elections and education, government of Nunavut, and the private sector.
“One thing that was always really consistent is sort of my love for art and culture and crafting,” said Fredlund.
“I enjoy working with a lot of different art mediums and being creative. So that was something that was always really consistent with what I’ve been doing over the years since I was a kid.”
Fredlund says she’s always been a bit shy to become a full-time artist and that it didn’t seem realistic she could provide for her family and do art at the same time. But she says the arts community is very supportive and welcoming, and that it’s really special to be part of.
“This idea of Maybe Somewhere is that I get to do what I enjoy. I can design, I can draw, I can make some jewelry and stuff, but I also get to work with other really cool and inspiring people,” said Fredlund.
Fredlund’s education journey started when she graduated high school in Rankin Inlet and went to Ottawa to attend Nunavut Sivuniksavut, a post-secondary program for Inuit students from Nunavut to learn more about Inuit history and the land claims agreement and culture.
She did that for a year, took a break, and decided to attend the Western Academy of Photography, a privately owned photography school in Victoria, B.C. that no longer exists.
Fredlund went back to Rankin Inlet, and says the hamlet and government are also really active in offering different programs, and most recently was part of the Nalunaiqsijiit, a cruise training initiative for Inuit.
“There’s quite a few cruise ship companies that come through the Arctic and it really is important to have Inuit presence on there. I think it really adds value to the passenger’s experience,” said Fredlund.
Even though she has kept busy, Fredlund has faced a few obstacles of her own including the pressure to succeed when she was a new grad.
She says being in Nunavut Sivuniksavut was great because she had support and had classmates from all over the territory there with her. But it was when she moved to Victoria she felt culture shock for the first time.
Fredlund says being there she felt lonely and felt like she couldn’t go back home or she would be a disappointment. She says she found positive people to help get her through that and it created sort of a family dynamic for her.
She also would hang out with friends who had family and says the more time she spent with them the better she felt.
And if there’s anything she could tell students who are thinking of leaving their community for the first time, it would be to save up your money before you go and to not feel pressured to do anything by anyone.
“There’s going be a lot of overwhelming advice coming in like, “Oh, why don’t you get into accounting? There’s always jobs in this. Why don’t you do nursing?” and all those are great. There’s so many great careers out there, but I guess, find something you enjoy,” said Fredlund.
“We get to decide what our own success is and so learn from yourself. What do you like? What do you have fun with? What do you enjoy? And it makes learning a lot more fun. And if you’re having fun, it’s easier to learn.”
Special thanks to Jasmine Kabatay for authoring this blog post.
Future Pathways Fireside Chats are a project of TakingITGlobal's Connected North Program.
Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.