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Yellowknifers Join Northern Fellowship

Two Yellowknife residents are joining the Jane Glassco Northern Fellowship for the program's next two-year cycle.

Don Couturier, and Chloe Dragon Smith have been accepted into the program by the program's umbrella corporation, The Gordon Foundation.

Photo Courtesy of The Gordon Foundation
Don Couturier, center, stands with the rest of the members of the Jane Glassco Northern Fellowship Program.

“They've been really wonderful so far,” said Couturier. “Once I realized their priorities were in line with mine, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”

According to their official website the fellowship aims to ‘bring together young northerners, aged 25 to 35, who want to build a strong North that benefits northerners.’ Melania Sheldon, Program Manager with the fellowship says that means fostering young policymakers from the north that want to improve the north.

“We wanna see these young northerners passionate about making change,” said Sheldon. “They see something wrong with their community and they want to make a change.”

For Couturier, who is currently enrolled in law school at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., the change comes in the form of self-governance for northern communities.

“In terms of self-governance in the north, I want to learn about the communities vision for the north, and help them create their vision.” Sais Couturier.

For the next two years Couturier will be mentored by Larry Innes, a Partner  with more than 25 years of experience with First Nation self-governance negotiations at Olthuis, Kleer and Townshend LLP. Couturier says that he is excited for the pan-territorial network that the fellowship will help him create with a number of different community and government leaders. The fellowship has previously partnered with the likes of Stephen Kakfwi, former NWT Premier and Mary Simon, former minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs' Special Representative on Arctic Issues.

The fellowship has already met once in Whitehorse this past February to begin their networking, not only between current members, but with past members as well. Alumni from the Glassco program now include northern mayors, elders, and government officials, fulfilling a goal of the program.

“While it is not a requirement for them to stay in the north, we want to foster policy makers that are from the north that want to stay in the north,” said Sheldon.

Couturier fits that mold as he says that it was always his goal to return to the north once he completes his studies down south.

Couturier and Dragon Smith will be joined on the fellowship by Kristen Tanche from Fort Simpson,  Heather Bourassa of Fort Good Hope and Peter Greenland of Inuvik. A total of 15 young people from across the north, including the Yukon, Nunavut and Nunavik, will join the fellowship for the programs current term.