Annette Anulik Boucher, who now uses the short form Anu, is a 26-year-old Inuit woman who comes originally from Rankin Inlet, a hamlet of approximately 2,800 inhabitants located in Nunavut, on the West Coast of Hudson Bay. She is one of the spokespersons for the Rendez-vous de la Francophonie, held across Canada from March 1 to 31. Find out more about this inspiring young woman by reading her answers to our questions.
Our Languages blog (OLB): Anu, you’re currently living in Ottawa, and your main language is English. Tell us why it’s important for you to continue learning Inuktitut.
Anu: My father, Yves, is a Quebecer from Rimouski; and my mother, Leonie, is an Inuk from Rankin Inlet. So for me, it is essential to continue learning Inuktitut. No matter how slow or hard the process is, learning Inuktitut is an essential part of reclaiming my culture and my identity. It connects me to my people, and I get to build friendships with those who teach me.
OLB: What advice would you give to people who would like to learn a new language?
Anu: I’d tell them to never give up. Some languages will be harder to learn. Inuktitut, for example, doesn’t have the same resources as French. But the more you practise, the better you’ll get. It’s not easy, but the difficulties shouldn’t deter you. Keep trying to keep the language alive.
OLB: What does being a spokesperson for the Rendez-vous de la Francophonie (RVF) mean to you?
Anu: Being a spokesperson for the RVF allows me to share my voice and perspective with my fellow Canadians. As an Indigenous person in this country, I’m grateful to be given the space to speak on issues that affect me personally. Inuit are a minority, and although there are fewer than 100,000 Inuit in Canada, some of the issues that are the focus of this year’s RVF (like climate change) will affect us more than the rest of Canada, so I find it important that I speak up.
OLB: The theme of this year’s RVF is the environment, one of your passions. What sparked this interest?
Anu: As an Inuk growing up in the Arctic, I found that the environment played a big role in my everyday life. We experienced blizzards and extremely cold temperatures. My hometown of Rankin Inlet had the longest recorded blizzard in Canada; it lasted seven days and five hours. Although we face many hardships because of the weather, the Arctic will always be home to Inuit; and over time, we’ve learned to read weather patterns. But with climate change, weather and sea ice conditions are getting harder to predict. My culture is what drives my passion for the environment: I want to protect my homeland and my traditions. I will always try to educate Canadians about how important the environment is.
OLB: You’re a project coordinator at Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, the national representative organization of Inuit women in Canada. What do you like most about your work?
Anu: I get to work on projects that benefit Inuit across the country and, in the process, learn more about my people and about myself as an advocate.
OLB: What would you like people to discover about Inuit culture?
Anu: Honestly, I’d love to show people all aspects of my culture. We’re so much more than the people who lived in igloos and who eat raw meat. We have a rich culture, with many valuable teachings that it would benefit everyone to learn. We’re all strong, we come from a habitat that not many other people would have survived in, and we’re resourceful. We’re the inventors of the kayak (qajaq in Inuktitut) and snow goggles, and even the idea for a freezer came from Inuit meat caches.
OLB: Is there a person, author or book that has had a major influence on you or your journey?
Anu: I know this is a very typical answer, but my parents impacted my life in a very profound way. My mom didn’t have an easy life; she lived through many hardships but still grew to be one of the most caring people I know, very generous but also very outspoken, and willing to speak for those who haven’t yet found their voice. My dad is brilliant, he’s highly respected in his field of work, and he always spoke to me as if I was capable of understanding, even when he was speaking about engines the size of our house; so he created an environment that allowed me to believe I was capable of learning and understanding anything, and I never doubted my own intelligence.
OLB: In closing, you’ve already mentioned in an interview, “Even though I’m tiny, I’m mighty.” What inspired that motto?
Anu: My classmates in the Environmental Technology Program always pointed out how small I was, but I always felt I could do anything I set my mind to, so I never let my size get in the way.
The opinions expressed in posts and comments published on the Our Languages blog are solely those of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Language Portal of Canada.
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