Meet our Starfish Change-maker: Jennifer Kilabuk

2021-09-30

 |  Making a Difference

“By bringing our people together through cultural revitalization, raising awareness on climate change and unifying our voices to lobby for change, I believe together we can make a difference.” – Jennifer Kilabuk, 2021

Jennifer Kilabuk first got involved with The Starfish Canada community in 2018 while serving as a judge for the Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 program. Since then, Jennifer has volunteered for a second time to assist in the adjudication of the Top 25 program in 2020. While serving as a Top 25 judge, Jennifer played a crucial role in selecting and recognizing 25 young environmental leaders who have made an exceptional difference in their communities. When asked what she admires most about The Starfish Canada community, Jennifer stated that she “like[s] the Starfish Canada community because you can connect with like minded people to share ideas, resources and find inspiration”. 

Proudly residing in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Jennifer’s Inuit cultural identity and appreciation for the Arctic land, ice, and sea are at the core of her passion for the environment. Jennifer’s work in environmentalism has been deeply affected by the colonization of Inuit and other Indigenous groups across Canada, which fractured their connections to their land and culture. With Inuit communities in the Arctic experiencing the negative and frightening effects of climate change first hand, Jennifer centres her environmental advocacy on increasing Inuit representation within the government and the field of environmental science. When discussing what inspires her passion for environmentalism, Jennifer stated that “as the true and traditional environmental stewards of our land, I believe Inuit should be at the forefront of decision making regarding our environment. It is in our cultural values to “avatiptingnik Munarittiarniq” – to respect and care for the land, animals and the environment”. 

As a strong advocate for the environment and the Inuit community, Jennifer turned her passions into an extensive career in environmentalism. Previously serving as The Government of Nunavut’s Climate Change Secretariat, Jennifer used her position to raise awareness about climate issues across the territory and give a voice to Inuit people on the local, national and international stage. Now as an Aquatic Scientific Technician with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Jennifer is rewriting the narrative of Traditional knowledge being considered inadequate to Western knowledge, and inspiring Inuit youth to pursue careers in science. 

In addition, Jennifer is proud to have developed the 4-day Traditional Roots program which helped connect Inuit youth in her community with their culture and land. The Traditional Roots program allowed youth to learn about Inuit history and traditional survival skills while spending time camping out on the land with elders. Jennifer appreciates The Starfish Canada community for supporting her career growth by sharing that “The Starfish Canada helped me see that big or small anyone can make a difference. The Starfish Canada inspires me to live a more sustainable livelihood and thus helps me grow as an environmentalist.”

When asked what advice Jennifer would offer to other young environmentalists she stated that:

  1. “Take opportunities to learn and participate as often as you can.”
  2. “Take care of yourself and your mental health. Sometimes our passions cloud us from caring for ourselves when we see that there is so much to be done. It’s important to care for ourselves so we can give our best at caring for others/our environment.”