My heritage is a mixture of Inuit and Haitian, and while I was raised in Nunavik, I also spent a lot of my childhood in Ontario. My CWY exchange involved a work placement in Moncton, at Youth Quest Central, a centre for homeless youth, where I made many friends. Overseas, my experience was in Ghana, working in schools and clinics. Both were perfect for me, because I really love working with young people.

One morning, in Ghana, I saw my host mother had no one to help her carry water, so I grabbed a small bucket and followed her to the well. The large group of women who regularly sat chatting outside our house would applaud me each time I brought back a bucketful, and laugh when I managed to soak myself in the process. To fill the water tank in the house we had to make several trips, and I began to get impatient, taking a succession of larger buckets with me each time. The ladies laughed at my determination, and clapped each time I returned successfully.

When I emerged from the house with a gigantic metal bowl large enough to sit in, the women started yelling at me, begging me not to fill it with water. Being headstrong and confident, I ignored their advice and decided to give it a go. When I got to the well, none of the kids pumping water would fill it for me. Their only response was, “Obruni, no! Obruni too big! Obruni you can’t!” Sizing up the situation, my host mother had sent her son to help, and he begged them to fill the container. We both struggled to get it on my head but I couldn’t balance, and water was sloshing everywhere. Needless to say, I returned to the house with my tail between my legs, followed by my host brother with the brimming, oversized bowl on his head.

CWY completely changed my outlook on life, especially life in my home community in Aupaluk and my region, Nunavik. It gave me the tools to understand my own cultural context better, and it helped me make sense of the differences we face in relation to mainstream Canadian culture.”

What Happened Next?

During the CWY Program, Janice ran for a position at the Regional Youth Association in Nunavik, Saputiit Youth Association. Since completing the exchange, as Vice-President of the association, her focus has been on Nunavimmiut youth politics, health and education. Janice is a shining example of the young leaders that are formed through CWY programs—youth who continue to contribute and make a positive impact on their home communities.

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