Developing a sense of community was stressed during East Three Secondary School’s wellness day.

All four keynote speakers during the morning’s assembly talked about the importance of community Tuesday, Jan. 9.

Bobbie Jo Greenland-Morgan, president of the Gwich’in Tribal Council, speaks during wellness day.
Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

Bobbie Jo Greenland-Morgan, president of the Gwich’in Tribal Council, said that community means not just the town where people live, but also their friends and family.

“The most successful community is a community that works together and supports each other and brings out the good in each other,” she said.

In high school, Greenland-Morgan left the region to take Grade 10 in Saskatoon, going from a community of about 600 people in Aklavik to 200,000.

“The very first thing I did there is I found a sense of community,” she said. “In my case it was the aboriginal population there, because I felt supported by them, because we shared common values and beliefs.”

She encouraged students to carry themselves in a positive way and respect themselves first.

“If you can’t respect yourself, you don’t know how to respect those around you, and that includes not just your peers but your educators,” said Greenland-Morgan.

“Try to always be mindful of those around you.”

Three other young adults spoke during the opening of the annual event, including Alyssa Carpenter, Noel Cockney and Chukita Gruben.

Carpenter talked about her challenges with depression and anxiety, saying even that morning she had had only two hours of sleep while preparing for her speech.

“I wouldn’t be where I am without my community,” said Carpenter.

She talked about being involved in community events growing up in her home of Sachs Harbour and the connection she found with sports.

Cockney encouraged students to share their stories of the North when they travel.

“It’s important for us as people of the North to share stories,” he said.

Gruben talked about staying in her community of Tuktoyaktuk post-graduation and how she has found joy in working.

After the morning speeches, the day consisted of several workshops, including ones about self-harm, social services, traditional crafts, cyber safety, sexual health, judo and more.

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