A Career Celebrating Culture: Qavangat Angalik Shares her Inuit Roots
“I used to think that it was important to choose one specific career, but time has shown me otherwise,” explains Qavangat Angalik. She is from Arviat, Nunavut but now lives in Montreal and works as a researcher with CBC Radio Canada. Angalik listens to archived audio files of Inuktitut stories and catalogs them so researchers can find them more easily and eventually, make them available to the general public. She’s worked a lot of different jobs before she got to her current role.
As a teen, she worked in customer service, in retail, then became an administrative assistant, working with different organizations and governments. She’s also worked as an ecommerce advisor for Indigenous business. Her work has revolved around Inuit culture, literacy, language and education, working as a literacy camp counselor, translating the Inuktitut language, being the assistant for the Legislative Assembly library of Nunavut and even becoming a librarian.
Angalik provides content through Connected North, reading to students in Inuktitut, including the children’s book she wrote. Sila and the Land was written with Ariana Roundpoint and Lindsay Dupré, and intended to share Indigenous perspectives on climate change. Looking back on her career path, she says, “I've always had a passion for language, Inuit culture, history and education. I've always tried to stay true to myself by doing what I enjoy because I've learned that's where I do my best work and give the best of my abilities.”
The opportunities she’s had have come from people who support her and her dreams. Growing up in a small town with few resources, there was a lot she felt she couldn't do, but even more she did accomplish because of everyone who believed in her. CBC did an interview about her sharing her passion by reading to kids in Inuktitut through the Connected North program and in getting to know her, they decided to include her in their Indigenous languages project, leading her to her current job.
In school as a student herself, she was an avid reader and at the top of her class. She played soccer, badminton, volleyball, wrestled, acted in plays and volunteered. After high school, her two years of English literature at Brock University were funded with a scholarship from TD for community leadership. She felt pressure to perform academically and ultimately she decided it wasn’t for her. As the only Inuk student at Brock University, the paperwork from her financial assistance was complicated for the school to administer and she wasn’t able to help them figure it out.
She struggled with her mental health, drinking and doing drugs and missing the kind of support she had in high school. With more support, she feels she could have accomplished more. Angalik went on to take Inuit studies, but took a break to work and take care of her mental health. She went back to finish it and then moved to Montreal.
As an adult, she’s learned better how to take care of herself through therapy and connecting with those who share her struggles. She tries to stay true to herself, finding balance, consistency and self-compassion. Being hard on herself once held her back from moving forward.
After meeting amazing people who believe in her, she’s learned to be kinder to herself and express her feelings better, trusting she can take care of herself and that everything will work out eventually.
Learning to slow down and recognize things are never going to be perfect helped a lot. When she sets her mind to something, she wants it done right away and that’s something she has learned to let go over time.
Her advice to youth moving away from their home community is to stay true to themselves, particularly coming from a small town with few opportunities and being overwhelmed by the unlimited options in the city. Finding balance in that is important while having as much fun as possible. “Take that chance. You learn a lot more about yourself and your culture, once you step away from it. Just do what you feel is best for you at that moment in time.” she urges, reminding youth that their hometown will always be waiting for them as they feel the opposing tugs of missing family and community and longing for opportunities.
“It's good to try to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.There are a lot of things that make us uncomfortable that actually help us grow,” she offers wisely. In that discomfort, she shares that it’s possible to see what’s working and not working and how to make it better.
“There's no right or wrong way to live life. This is your life. No one else is going to decide for you.”
Sometimes that self-reflection can be hard. “That takes a lot of courage, being able to recognize what you can and can't do at that moment but also trying to balance with the fact that you are capable. Believe in your capabilities…and ask for support when you need it,” she recommends.
When it comes to inspiration, Angalik is inspired by people who are passionate about life. As an introvert, she never thought she was a people person, but she loves individual people so much, hearing their stories of challenges and accomplishments. Inuit people, culture and history inspire her, too, and the way her people have triumphed over adversity and are doing amazing things. Poetry, books, lyrics and music also bring her inspiration.
“When you meet someone who has so much passion for what they do and what they enjoy. It's very infectious. So I want to be able to do that. For others in my life as well,” Qavangat Angalik explains. She used to think you just had to find one career, but she’s learned over time that life has so much more to offer. Surrounded by people who believe in her, she’s found a way to do many things and to share with the world the things that bring her to life.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.
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.