Charlie and Josh are two SOI alumni who now work at Parks Canada in the Nunavut Field Unit. We interviewed them about their current jobs and their passions. They also discuss their favourite memories from expedition, their goals for the future and advice they have for youth.
This interview was made possible with support from Parks Canada.
Interview with Charlie and Josh
Charlie: Hello, my name is Charlie Nakashuk. I am originally from Pangnirtung and living in Iqaluit now. I love reading and listening to music, those are my hobbies.
Josh: My name is Josh Komangapik. I am originally from Iqaluit. My mom’s side of the family is from Iqaluit and my dad’s is from Pond Inlet/Mittimatalik. I have 5 younger sisters. My hobbies to do around the city are to go fishing, hiking, and hang out with my friends and family.
Question 1: What expedition were you on? How did the expedition impact you?
Josh: I was on the 2018 Arctic expedition and what inspired me to go was because my friend told me about this really cool program she thought would interest me because I was into the environment and exploring the world. I thought it would be a really cool opportunity. I missed the deadline for the first year I was interested in applying, but then I got on for the second year after I knew when the next deadline was!
Charlie: I was on the 2008 Arctic expedition. One of the school counsellors told me about SOI and that I should apply. I applied and didn’t really know what it was. I knew it was science based and I love science. So they recommended that I apply and I got in.
How did the expedition impact you?
Josh: The way that the experience impacted me was I became much more of a people person. It reignited my passion for the environment. It was really cool to be able to meet people from all over the Arctic and to see different parts of the Arctic. It really helped me appreciate the environment I live in a lot more.
Charlie: It helped me understand science better and understand the effects and impacts of climate change. I’ve loved science since I was a kid and it increased my love for science. It was pretty cool to learn things from botanists and ornithologists. I liked meeting all of the people from all around the world. It was awesome.
Question 2: Is there a moment or memory from the expedition that sticks out to you?
Charlie: There’s a lot. The biggest one I think was when we were on a Zodiac ride to Isabella Bay near Clyde River. There were all these bowhead whales just hanging out there. It was awesome. We turned off the motors and the whales were breathing, their flippers were banging on the water, it was so cool. It made me feel … I don’t even know how to explain it. You’re just so small compared to them. These are just amazing animals.
Josh: Well, that’s difficult to answer because there were so many amazing moments that happened on the expedition. One aspect of the expedition that really spoke to me was being able to have all these experiences with really passionate people…A lot of the youth were really excited about what was happening and what we were doing, and it was really cool to meet different scientists, politicians, philanthropists and people that were just so dedicated to their fields.. So I think the biggest thing about the expedition was meeting super awesome people, and meeting Inuit and Indigenous people, from all around the world.
Were there any specific people that stood out?
Josh: I think her name was Valérie Courtois, she was talking about Indigenous Guardianship and Indigenous leadership in conservation areas. To me, that was the coolest thing to hear her talk about conservation from an Indigenous perspective. That really made me excited to work in the field of conservation.
Question 3: Can you describe your job at Parks Canada?
Charlie: I am participating in the Inuit Learning and Development Program (ILDP) run by Pilimmaksaivik, the Federal Centre of Excellence for Inuit Employment in Nunavut. I have a four-month rotation with Parks Canada and I am on the environmental impact assessment team with Resource Conservation (res con, for short). I pretty much work on a couple of projects with Parks right now and I am doing two more with them. For the first project, I created a cheat sheet they are going to be using for a new field survey. Another project I worked on was related to a weather station that collects data throughout the year in Quttinirpaaq National Park. Data collected from the weather stations in our parks help us assess trends in the climate and supports our ecological integrity monitoring program. One of the parameters the weather station records is wind speed, every hour. We saw that between 2014 and 2016, the wind speed recorded by the weather station was a lot slower than during other years. Parks staff also measured and recorded wind speeds using a handheld device every morning and evening during the summer field season. We decided to compare the wind speeds recorded by the weather station and the handheld device. We suspected updates to the program that recorded the data had changed how the weather station was recording wind speeds. To see if that was true, I combined the wind speed data recorded by the weather station and the handheld device in a database. I plotted graphs to compare the speeds and wrote a report with my findings. Now I am helping the cultural resource management team with a report for Ukkusiksalik National Park.
Josh: I am a planner at Parks Canada’s Nunavut Field Unit, so I help to jointly write 10 year strategic plans on how national parks are managed in Nunavut. National parks in Nunavut are subject to article 8 under the Nunavut Agreement which has to do with parks. Under article 8, prior to the establishment of a national park, Parks Canada and the Designated Inuit Organization must negotiate and ratify an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement. Currently, I am working on the new management plan for Auyuittuq National Park, which falls under the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for Auyuittuq, Quttinirpaaq, and Sirmilik National Parks. I work cooperatively with Inuit from communities adjacent to these national parks. I get to work with park planning teams that are made up of community members as well as Joint Inuit/Government Park Management Committee members in Nunavut to create these 10 year management plans. I will also do consultations with the public, various government departments, community members, and people in the private sector. I will get to travel to these communities and carry out consultations that inform the development of the park management plan. One of the best things about working in this job is I get to work with different elders, knowledge holders and community members.
Question four: How does your experience on the expedition and your work at Parks relate?
Josh: During the expedition year, summer of 2018, I was a summer student with Government of Nunavut, Nunavut Parks and Special Places. At the time, Parks Canada was leading the Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area interim management plan consultations. Parks Canada sponsored me to come along as a note-taker. I luckily gained valuable professional experience on how consultations are done for conservation areas in Nunavut. It was a really special experience that paved the way for where I am today.
I was able to go to all five adjacent communities (Arctic Bay, Clyde River, Grise Fiord, Pond Inlet, and Resolute) that summer before going on the expedition, which was a really amazing opportunity. I went to Pond Inlet in the spring during the consultations and then a second time in the summer with Students on Ice. It was a really cool experience seeing the transitions from spring to summer.
Later that summer on the expedition, I traveled within the same boundaries of Tallurutiup Imanga that I had seen on the maps during the consultations. It really had an amazing impact on me.
Charlie: I started with Parks in June just this past year, so I have been mostly on my computer and with SOI we were immersed, so I think mostly the science related stuff is connected. Mostly I am writing reports now, so that is connected to the wilderness and our surveys.
Question five: Where do you hope to be 10 years from now?
Josh: It is a bit hard, especially with everything going on in the world, but I plan on getting married next year with my super awesome fiancé. Next year or the year after, I hope to start my Masters of Northern Studies at Carleton University and one day my Masters of Conservation Leadership at Guelph University for the purpose of influencing high-level policy in environmental policy and conservation in Nunavut. I hope to make a difference in the way that those things are covered in the territories. I also hope to be a good role model for my sisters.
Charlie: I don’t know, I haven’t thought about it, but I know I am going to go to school again, I still haven’t decided for what though. I am stuck between animal behaviour biology and other subjects, but hopefully I will be a graduate and working somewhere great. I love animals, birds particularly… their migratory routes, conservation. I think ravens are my favourite birds. They are so cool, so smart and I love their colour! On the expedition we went to this island where we saw a thick-billed murre colony which was really cool.
Question Six: Do you have any advice for youth reading this?
Charlie: Take chances and try new things. Don’t be afraid of change.
Josh: Whatever you choose to do after high school or whatever it is in life, it doesn’t have to be forever. And if you are not happy in whatever you have chosen, it is okay to change what you want to do. When I was in post-secondary I changed my program three times and I was so happy I eventually landed on where I wanted to be. Being stuck in something you’re not really happy in isn’t fun. Don’t be afraid of change and messing up.
Any last comments?
Josh: Well, firstly I would like to thank Students on Ice for all the really cool opportunities they have given me, as well as being a part of the alumni delegations. I really hope post-pandemic they will be able to continue their operations.
What do you love most about your work with parks?
Charlie: What I love most about parks right now is being busy. My coworkers are awesome! I haven’t been with parks that long and I can’t decide what I love the most!
Charlie Nakashuk was raised in Panniqtuuq, Nunavut. Charlie is currently enrolled in the Inuit learning and development program (ILDP) with Pilimmaksaivik, the Federal Centre of Excellence for Inuit Employment in Nunavut. ILDP is a pre-employment training program where participants complete work placements at three different federal government departments for four months at a time. Charlie’s first rotation was with the Canadian Wildlife Service at Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). His second placement was with Natural Resources Canada with the Polar Continental Shelf Program. His third and current rotation is with Parks Canada with the Resource Conservation team. In September, he’s going back to ECCC for his last rotation. Charlie took the opportunity to participate in the ILDP as he found it had a science stream and because he likes working in the field of science. He has enjoyed all the different scientific fields he’s experienced so far.
Before the program, Charlie was a youth officer at the Isumaqsungittukkuvik/Young offenders facility. During his personal time, he enjoys reading and listening to music.
My name is Josh Komangapik and I am a 26 year old Inuk Park Management Planner with Parks Canada’s Nunavut Field Unit based in Iqaluit, NU. My mother’s family is from Iqaluit and my father’s is from Pond Inlet. I graduated from Bishop’s University in 2018 with a BA in Geography. I am passionate about Inuit/Indigenous rights, conservation, Inuit food security, and climate change.