Julie Ivalu

Julie Ivalu is living a life filled with incredible accomplishments and a successful career to boot. Ivalu grew up in Igloolik, Nunavut, and started her career working as a producer, editor, and host for the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation when they got television in the north, facing some heavy competition along the way.

She says they only wanted one female to train for the position, and was in a pool with along 32 other applicants.

“It took them three weeks to select one. I guess that was hard for them. And they got me,” said Ivalu.

She went on to train with all men, but says they were very supportive of her to represent Inuit women and their values and put it on the show.

Throughout her time on the show, Ivalu says they promoted their language with the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation and programming for children and youth.

It’s something that has lead her to what she’s doing today, which is doing translations for various language barriers.

For Ivalu’s education, she says it was both formal and informal.

“I had wonderful teachers with my upbringing because my dad would always go to the teachers and tell them, “You got to teach them properly.” I had wonderful teachers,” said Ivalu.

She says one of her best teachers she remembers was a man who would speak the bible but speak it in her language as she was raised Catholic growing up.

Another teacher she remembers ‘sort of broke the rules’ when she was in grade seven and let them do a little university studies because he wanted them to have a good understanding and education.

The important and beauty of translation into Indigenous language, illustrated by a prism refracting a light beam.
Illustration by Shaikara David: The important and beauty of translation into Indigenous language, illustrated by a prism refracting a light beam.

For students thinking of leaving their community for post-secondary or a career opportunity, Ivalu says to know what resources are available wherever you may go.

Ivalu also advises people to use their language as much as possible.

“When I speak my language, I have better understanding what the word is saying. When I speak the English, there’s some words that … How do I say … Inuit, when they speak, they sing. When we speak English, it’s a different tone,” said Ivalu.

But of course it wasn’t an easy journey for Ivalu, and she ran into some obstacles herself.

“Of course, I met the wrong people who I met here in Ottawa are … totally don’t have education or don’t have understanding where I come from. Manipulators, abusers. They can keep you drinking,” said Ivalu.

She says a female detective helped her get out of that by asking her questions about her family and children, which is what ultimately kept her going.

“It’s tough. There’s all kinds of rude that don’t seem rude there. There are people like that out there, so always be careful.”

Special thanks to Jasmine Kabatay for authoring this blog post.

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