NEWS: Nunavut May 12, 2018 - 9:30 am

Meet Iqaluit’s newest Jane Glassco northern fellow

“We often talk about IQ but how do we apply it on a daily basis?”


Tina DeCouto describes the last few years of her life as: go, go, go.

The Iqaluit woman completed a long-distance business degree, had two boys and, more recently, DeCouto took on a new job as assistant director of social and cultural development at Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

Now, the 33-year-old has a new project on the horizon: DeCouto is one of 15 northerners and five Inuit selected for a 2018-19 Jane Glassco Northern Fellowship, a two-year policy development program run through the Gordon Foundation.

“I’ve been looking for opportunities to better enhance my skills; to do my job better,” she said.

“We just go, go, go, it feels. But as a young Inuk, I have to sit across the table from very senior positions,” she said.

“What interested me was [the idea of] equipping young northerners with leadership and policy skills.”

DeCouto was initially drawn to apply for the fellowship after seeing the work produced by previous Nunavummiut fellows, like Navarana Beveridge, who focused her policy research on language from an early childhood education perspective.

While she’s still working on her policy focus, DeCouto wants to explore Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and how it applies to the workplace and everyday interactions in the North.

“We often talk about IQ but how do we apply it on a daily basis?” she said.

Born and raised in Iqaluit, DeCouto spent part of her childhood in Montreal, raised by her Inuk mother and Portuguese father.

The Nunavut Sivuniksavut graduate said she didn’t have a particularly traditional upbringing: her grandparents had passed away before she could know them, and she didn’t have the chance to learn from and interact with their generation.

Her interest also stems from her own personal experience of not feeling encouraged to use her own skills to their full capacity, and a desire to seek the kinships to help her develop that.

DeCouto said she’s gathered a lot of fodder from Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit: What Inuit Have Always Known to Be True, a book by Arviat elder Joe Karetak, Shirley Tagalik and Frank Tester.

The book references the Inuit ways of thinking and methods of nurturing a capable human being, she noted—through resourcefulness, diligence and helping others.

“So what stuck out to me was not necessarily the content that really matters but the methods we use to support Inuit to do what they want to do,” she said, noting that doesn’t only apply to child rearing.

“As adults, how do we foster that? I’m leaning towards [how that applies] to Inuit in management, and how we manage in the context of IQ.”

As part of the two-year fellowship, the Gordon Foundation provides $5,000 towards research expenses, money which DeCouto hopes to use to travel to other communities or meet with elders and IQ experts.

The two-year fellowship also comes with a mentorship component, through which fellows can decide to collaborate with elders or community leaders.

DeCouto said she’s also encouraged by the fellowship’s focus on gathering different northerners, who may come from very different regions and backgrounds, but face common policy issues.

“It’s so interesting to see the similarities,” she said.

The Jane Glassco fellows for 2018-2019 in Nunavut include Megan Pizzo-Lyall of Rankin Inlet, Marjorie Kaviq Kaluraq of Iqaluit and Laura Arngna’naaq of Yellowknife.

In Nunavik, Kangiqsualujjuaq mayor Hilda Snowball is also a fellow for 2018-2019. Learn more about the fellows here.