Marley Angugatsiaq Dunkers

Marley Angugatsiaq Dunkers was born in Iqaluit and has lived in all three regions of Nunavut, with roots in Igloolik, Nunavut. She is in her final year of the Nunavut Law School, a four-year program at Nunavut Arctic College affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan.  Marley first found her passion for law while attending Nunavut Sivuniksavut. Students who attend Nunavut Sivuniksavut learn about their Inuit history, while also learning about contemporary issues that Inuit face including land claims and how to express their culture. Her aspirations are to be able to provide Inuit within Nunavut with more Wills. As well as thinking of ways to provide access to justice in the legal field. When she's not reading or focusing on her studies she beads, sews and sings. She gains inspiration from the land, traditional and modern Inuit garments.

Marley Angugatsiaq Dunkers grew up in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut with roots from Igloolik, Nunavut. She has been calling Iqaluit home for the last ten years, which she currently resides in. Marley is in Nunavut Law School that is offered in Iqaluit and is affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan. Marley found her passion for law while attending Nunavut Sivuniksavut in 2013 after she graduated high school, which is a school about Inuit history, while also learning about contemporary issues that Inuit face, land claims, and how Inuit express their culture. Marley’s aspirations are to be able to provide Inuit within Nunavut with Wills, as well as thinking of ways to provide access to justice in the legal system.

“That's where I learned about Inuit history, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, and the preface to what our politicians and leaders did towards signing the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. And I really didn't know too much about our culture. Well, I did know a little bit about our culture, but I didn't know about our history and that really intrigued me. I learned a lot.”

Marley analysed implementations in Nunavut, and what is successful and what is not, Marley learned about what is considered ‘legal language’ at first, she thought it was frustrating but the more she understood it, she was intrigued to learn more. When she becomes a lawyer, Marley will be able to translate and advocate the legal language for people. She is a student that is finishing up her final year of the law program, she will soon be able to article someone in Nunavut. She is highly passionate about wills and estate and going into her dream job is considered challenging from Marley’s perspective. Dunkers had a difficult experience dealing with her parents will and ensured that she got support from public trustee with her father’s estate, she supported her mother in writing a will for future likelihood and to make it easier on Dunker.

Dunkers’ education and training journey was not formally a legal background, she took a couple years off after high school and worked at the local women’s shelter in Iqaluit. At first, she was not sure what her career aspirations were but her main takeaway working at the women’s shelter was that she felt empathetic, and she likes to be able to help people. She wanted to be able to do that in such a way that would benefit not only herself as an Inuit but the community of Iqaluit.

Her biggest obstacle was losing her parents at a young age, Dunkers lost her father at sixteen and mother at 23. She learned to see it as a silver lining and it helped her decide to always persevere to help herself but also help others. Her biggest motivation is her sister, friends, and family that supported her throughout the four-year law program. Her loved ones encouraged and reminded Marley why she wanted to go into the program, and why she wanted to do law as a career, to be able to help many people.

Illustration by Shaikara David

Marley overcame her obstacles by self-reflecting and talking about it with family members. In the beginning it was difficult and found she was frustrated with it. But the more she spoke about it, she was gaining experiences through learning how to bead and sing, which helped her ground herself and be able to see the positive around her to pursue her goals. 

Marley has been away from home before, where she was based in Ottawa attending Nunavut Sivuniksavut. The advice she gives to students thinking of leaving their home community is she knows it can be very scary being somewhere where you don’t know the community or the city, you are going a new place with a blindfold on. Dunkers states it will take a few years depending on what you want to go into, but keep persevering with school and work. She talks about it with family, “I'm almost at the four years of my program and I'm like, "It's never going to end," and it slowly has. Just keep remembering why you wanted to do what you do, and keep talking about it with friends, and why are you so passionate about it, and why do you want to do it. And keep that in mind and keep working on your goal.” says Marley.

A message to her younger self would be being okay with sharing your opinions, thoughts and communicating that with people like elders or youth. She did not feel like people her own age understood where she often came from because few people lose their parents at a young age.  “Be OK with your situation and realize just because you're in the situation you are now, that doesn't mean that'll change. You can change where you want to go and make things better for you and yourself.” says Marley.

To keep mental health in check during times of uncertainty is writing and reflect, Marley tries to reflect on her current situation or where her mind is and write that down. She states sometimes it’s writing or song writing, also singing or beadwork. As of lately, she has been getting into sewing, she started to get interested in planting such as regrowing lettuce from the grocery store.

She gets her inspiration from her peers, elders, family members, friends. She did not think she would want to go into law, instead thinking she would be an artist like a singer. A big inspiration for Marley would be the Nunavut Sivuniksavut program, but also Nunavut land claims negotiators such as Tagak Curley and Jose Kusugak. They paved the way for Inuit to have their own territory and land claims, although she states Inuit may have land-claims in Nunavut but that does not mean there aren’t issues that Inuit still face. “I want to be able to give future Inuit more opportunities and help remedy some of those issues that we have.” says Marley Dunker, “A lot of people in Nunavut don't have wills, and I want to change that. Because I know it can be very hard for people who lose a parent already or a family member or a friend. But I want to be able to alleviate some of that hard, hard emotions.” She wants to be able to make it easier for people to be able to mourn, process and move forward with their life.

Thanks to Carly Brascoupé for writing this article.

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