Inuvik, NWT: Indigenous leadership and stewardship in the face of climate change

Sara Raymond de Booy

26 October 2023

“There’s a lot of things that I believe Inuvik and the Beaufort Delta could teach the world. First and foremost is about respect. We needed to live up here…we’ve learned to live on one of the harshest areas of this planet by working together.” – Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik, Gwich’in Tribal Council


Inuvik, Northwest Territories, is a place where fascinating forces of nature meet. It’s also a place where passionate stewards of the land are working tirelessly to preserve their culture and the ecosystem it depends on. The Indigenous Gwich’in and Inuvialuit peoples have been home here for millennia, but today’s residents and visitors are witnessing dramatic impacts of the climate crisis. It’s testing the region’s ingenuity and resiliency.

Bambi Amos, traditional Inuvialuit artist

Bambi Amos, traditional Inuvialuit artist

In episode one of the Travel Beyond’s Inuvik series, Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik of the Gwich’in Tribal Council and traditional Inuvialuit artist, Bambi Amos, share their perspectives on the connection that the community in Inuvik and the Beaufort Delta has to the land. They also discuss what their cultures can teach us about adapting to a climate-changed world, and the significance of resilience and ingenuity in coping with the challenges of the Arctic environment.

Weighing the balance between the impact of tourism and the value it can bring to a community is always a topic we grapple with on the Travel Beyond podcast. This episode helps us to gain new perspective on the dilemma as Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik spotlights the important role tourism can play in giving people a firsthand understanding of the impacts of climate change.

You’ll also learn:

  • A little advice from Gwich’in Elders.
  • About climate impacts people in the Inuvik area are witnessing first-hand.
  • Why celebrating small wins and kindness is often more valuable than glamorizing the GOATs (greatest of all time) for building strong communities.
  • What Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik believes Inuvik can teach the world.
  • Reasons why travel to Inuvik and the North can have a big impact on visitors and residents. 

Later this season, we speak with community leaders, climate scientists, and locals working to restore balance between travel, culture, and the environment. Here’s a preview:

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Show notes

  • Gwich’in Tribal Council – Founded in 1992, it’s an Indigenous organization that represents Gwich’in people in the Mackenzie Delta region of the Northwest Territories and across Canada.
  • Tuktoyaktuk – A community in the Northwest Territories of Canada that is home to the Inuvialuit people and is being drastically affected by climate change-caused erosion.
  • Inuvik – This town is in the Northwest Territories of Canada, located on the east channel of the Mackenzie River delta. It is the largest town north of the Arctic Circle in Canada, and is home to a diverse population of Inuvialuit, Gwich’in, and non-Indigenous settlers. 
  • Bambi Amos – Bambi is a traditional Inuvialuit artist living in Inuvik who is passionate about teaching her skills to youth in her community.


Episode transcript

Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik: There’s a lot of things I believe Inuvik and the Beaufort Delta could teach the world. We’ve learned to live on one of the harshest areas of this planet by working together. Our Elders had a saying that hard times are coming. And they advise us of our need to get back to the land.

David Archer: Hello and welcome to Travel Beyond, where we partner with leading destinations to explore the greatest challenges facing communities and the planet, surfacing their most inspiring solutions. I’m David Archer, Editorial Manager at Destination Think, and I’m recording from the coastal village of Daajing Giids, British Columbia, in Haida Gwaii, the territory of the Haida Nation.

Tyler Robinson: And I’m Tyler Robinson, a climate specialist at Destination Think. I’m recording from Toronto, the traditional territory of many nations, including the Mississauga of the Credit, the Anishinaabe, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat peoples. On this podcast, we look at the role of travel and choose to highlight destinations that are global leaders.

David Archer: We talk to the changemakers who are addressing regenerative travel through action in their communities, often from the bottom up.

Tyler Robinson: We’re actively looking for the best examples of efforts to regenerate economies, communities, and ecosystems. So be sure to reach out if you have a story to share with us.

David Archer: And any listeners familiar with the podcast will notice we’ve got a new voice today. So, a big welcome to my colleague at Destination Think, Tyler Robinson. Thanks for being here, Tyler, and welcome to the podcast.

Tyler Robinson: Thank you. I’m excited to be here.

David Archer: Yeah. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and your role at Destination Think?

Tyler Robinson: Sure. I’m a climate change and sustainability professional. And because the fields of climate change and sustainability are so intersectional and touch on so many different aspects of society, it really forces me to have a systems mindset. An example of this is that it’s very important to me to apply a social justice lens when developing climate action plans.

The types of projects that I usually work on involve developing sustainability or climate action strategies for cities or regions around the world that are looking to address some combination of sustainability challenges, becoming more resilient, and generally just improving quality of life. Some of the destinations I’ve worked with include Queenstown, New Zealand, Aspen, Colorado, Copenhagen, British Columbia, and Oregon.

Essentially, my work is an extension of Destination Think’s mission of shaping travel as a force for good.

David Archer: And in 2022, you and I did a written interview for the Destination Think blog called “Meet strategist Tyler Robinson: On a mission to make DMOs part of the climate solution.” So a year and a half onward, is that still true?

Tyler Robinson: Yes, definitely. It’s truer than ever. If anything, we need to increase our urgency. We’re not on track to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, unfortunately. And so we really need to ramp up our actions quickly. The challenges are immense, but the opportunities are even bigger. And luckily some destinations are realizing this.

And it’s been really inspiring to see them take ambitious action.

David Archer: Yeah. And it’s been inspiring to be able to share some of those actions and visions from destinations we’ve been working with and have had the opportunity to speak with. Can you talk a little bit more about what those opportunities might be, because we often hear about the challenges, which is important, but what are some of the opportunities that come to mind for you?

Tyler Robinson: Sure, the opportunities are really wide-ranging across social environment and economic benefits. To start, there’s going to be a massive opportunity for job creation. Whole industries will need to transform. New ones will have to emerge. Taking climate action also is often very closely tied to increasing the resilience of communities and allowing them to get ahead of the climate crisis.

There’s also export opportunities for clean energy or for many other forms of clean tech that a region might develop and be a leader in coming out of this climate crisis. And then finally, there’s many co-benefits that come with climate change actions that positively impact quality of life, in terms of health benefits, for example and often if we pursue climate action effectively, we’re doing it in tandem with biodiversity improvements. And so you get those types of co-benefits as well.

David Archer: This season we are headed to the Arctic town of Inuvik, Northwest Territories in Northern Canada. Our international listeners, or maybe even our Canadian listeners, might not be that familiar with Inuvik, so I wanted to situate us all. Inuvik is a remote town of about 3,400 people. It’s at 68 degrees latitude on the Mackenzie Delta, a little ways north of the Arctic Circle. Inuvik has an average of 56 days of midnight sun every summer and 30 days of polar night every winter.

Located in an area that has been home to the Gwich’in and Inuvialuit peoples for millennia. And these are two of the most northerly Indigenous groups in North America. We’re going to hear from members of those communities later this episode.

Inuvik is connected to the south via the Dempster Highway. And it’s 3,200 kilometers or so from the nearest major city, which is Edmonton. And that is according to Google Maps, at least a 38-hour drive. And then since 2017, the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk highway was completed and that links those two communities.

Tuktayaktuk is on the Arctic Ocean. Locals often call it Tuk, so you’ll hear that in some of the interviews. And this is a place where rising seas and coastal erosion are having a big impact. 

The region hosts many visitors too, and so as we get started, I wanted to share a short story from Jackie Challis who was, until just recently, the Director of Tourism and Economic Development at the Town of Inuvik.

She told us a little bit about what the community is like and shared a memorable experience related to travel. I’ll play that part of the interview for you right now. 

Jackie Challis: So Inuvik, we’re 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle and we are right on the tree line. South of us, and within and around us, your boreal forest and the land of the Gwich’in. And then if you just go north of us, we are also on the land of the Inuvialuit. So as we move north and closer to Tuk, you will pass the tree line, and all the coastal communities are above the treeline.

 I think the feeling here that’s different is that sense of community, that sense of family. That sense of collaboration and kinmanship and fellowship that you get here is something that you don’t find everywhere, and that is something that you feel here. And I think that when visitors come, they get a little sample of that and they get a taste of that.

A quick story is that we had two 97-year-old visitors that drove up in a VW Bug and they drove from Vancouver and they were 97 and 98 years old and drove the Dempster Highway in a Volkswagen Bug. And they came during Indigenous Day. And when we found out they were here, the whole community got together and they sang them, like, because it was their anniversary, and one of them, it was their birthday, so they sang them happy birthday, and then everybody was going up and congratulating them and hugging them. And they left saying, you know, we live in a place where Elders are ignored, where Elders are a pain or a difficulty, or we’re trying to put them away, and here, Elders are celebrated, that knowledge is celebrated, and they were so taken aback by that.

And it has stuck with me ever since their visit, because that is the difference, is that belief and understanding that Elders are the knowledge keepers, that they are the original, the original Google, that they are much more than that. And just watching their interaction here with people and how amazed they were was something that has stuck with me this whole time. 

David Archer: Any thoughts about that story from Jackie?

Tyler Robinson: Yeah, it was really warming to hear that story. It’s so inspiring to see that type of community energy, and the impacts that it has on people. Clearly it had a very significant impact on that couple that traveled up there. The sustainability challenges that we face around the world are so much more manageable when we have a collectivist mindset. When we start with that kind of foundation, it gives me hope that we can take adequate action. And I think that Inuvik and its community really embodies that energy. Of Jackie’s story. So that was very much in alignment with the experiences that I had when I was up there visiting.

David Archer: Yeah, I love that story. It just seems to encapsulate a sense of belonging and community that Inuvik residents have told us about and that Jackie is going to tell us about in our next episode. And I also feel like it’s a great example of how travel can change your perspective as both a visitor and as a host, because Jackie really was struck by this couple and how the community responded, and I think it’s a great example of the idea that we often talk about where travel needs to make the world a better place. It needs to make the places we visit better. And we can be proud to host visitors as well. 

You visited Inuvik in 2020. And that was part of the development of Inuvik’s tourism marketing strategy. Can you tell us, or give us a quick summary of that project and what you learned?

Tyler Robinson: Yeah, the key focus of this strategy really was to attract the right type of visitor to Inuvik. That was really at its core. It was a core theme that we wove through much of the document. And the region really does hold so much Indigenous wisdom, particularly about stewarding the land and these aren’t referred to as sustainable practices in any official way because they’re just the common way that Indigenous peoples have lived for thousands of years.

And more recently, climate scientists have been operating research stations out of the region. And the combination of Western science and Indigenous wisdom is really powerful when it comes to tackling sustainability challenges such as climate change. There’s so much to learn from this region, and we wanted to make sure we developed a strategy that attracts visitors who are respectful and who are eager to immerse themselves in experiences with a learning mindset.

David Archer: Yeah, and this season, we’re going to hear from Inuvik community members about values, culture, and connection with the land. We’re going to hear from climate scientists who are visiting to study permafrost and get some of their thoughts on travel. And we’ll also investigate some of the actions that are happening to help Inuvik adapt to the future of travel and Northern living.

We have some really exciting guests coming up. So Tyler, can you lead us into our first interview of the season?

Tyler Robinson: Definitely. We have two conversations to share today from Indigenous community members. We’ll hear from Bambi Amos, a traditional Inuvialuit artist. But first, we’ll drop in on a conversation that our CEO, Rodney Payne, had with Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik of the Gwich’in Tribal Council, who talks about his community’s connection with the land and shares a bit of wisdom passed down from Elders.

Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik: Ken Kyikavichik and I’m the Grand Chief of the Gwich’in Tribal Council.

Rodney Payne: What do you love most about living in this part of the world?

Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik: The land. The land and the resources and also the people. I have a lot of family up here. And friends and just the landscape and just the quality of life. The pace just seems to slow right down. I had lived outside of the region for over 17 years, and just coming back into the region, and everything just kind of takes a breath, and things move a little bit slower as a result, but I just find it just a much more down-to-earth way of living.

Rodney Payne: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you came full circle to return here?

Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik: Well, I grew up here in Inuvik, in a town just down the road from here called Fort McPherson, Teetł’it Zheh. A lot of my family comes from the community of Fort McPherson, so I spent a lot of my summers and key events like Christmas and Easter in Fort McPherson. So in a lot of ways I consider Fort McPherson my home. But I ended up leaving for my high school years. I went down and got my grade 12 in a place called Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. I was a member of the Western Arctic Leadership Program that took sort of the best and brightest grade nine students from across the Northwest Territories and put them into a leadership development type of school. I did five years at the University of Lethbridge. I did a year of law school and halfway through the year of law at the University of Alberta in Edmonton I realized this isn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

And I came back to Inuvik and, uh, the first job I had was as a lobbyist for the protection of the porcupine caribou. So lobbying the Eastern U.S. Seaboard. Found myself in Washington, D.C. on 9/11. And I watched history unfold from one of the Senate buildings there. And then I ended up coming home afterwards and fell in love.

Had a family, and we left in about 2000, late 2003, early 2004. And raised my three children. We spent about eight years in Yellowknife and then about, just over nine years in Saskatoon. And all my children are adults now, and I got three grandchildren now, so that’s my number one job, as a grandfather. Myself and my wife Tara came back here to Inuvik in 2020, so that I could run for Grand Chief of the Gwich’in Tribal Council. And I’ve been doing that work for coming on three years now.

Rodney Payne: What do you think people who’ve never been to the North should know about the people and environment here?

Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik: First and foremost, our resiliency. If you see some of the crafts that are here, a lot of them are handmade. We’ve made a living off of figuring out our own way to get our own supplies. The ingenuity that we have here in this region. Resiliency and ingenuity are two pieces that I think often gets overlooked. People see the beauty of a pair of moose hide slippers, earrings, but what they don’t understand or appreciate is the fact that our people learned how to make those while they were harvesting and living out on the land.

The other piece is that they made a lot of these items so that their family members and their loved ones could show it off to the community, just their handiwork and the pride that they would have. It’s not unlike you’d find with regalia in the Prairie Provinces of Canada when you go to Indigenous powwows. You know, it’s their, a labor of love, in terms of what some of the artisans create, but the reality is, is, you know, the ingenuity, the resilience. I think that that’s really what holds true for me in this part of the country.

Rodney Payne: What do you think it brings to the place to host tourists? You know, you welcome people from all over the world onto your land. What do you think that brings to the community?

Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik: Well, first and foremost, pride, right? You know, recognizing that as Gwich’in and Inuvialuit Indigenous peoples, we’ve been able to live in one of the harshest climates on the planet.

And we do so very humbly. You know, the fact that we can get down to minus 50 in the winter and up to plus 35 in the summer. Yes, we have lots of bugs. Yes, we have lots of wind. But our people really didn’t let that faze them. And we’ve been able to craft out a living in this part of the world with our ways of living. Our traditional ways as we call them.

And for us to be able to display that humility, that respect that we have for the land, because Mother Nature can be brutal at times and we’ve learned that first hand. Being able to share our knowledge with the rest of Canada and the world displays a tremendous amount of pride for local residents.

Rodney Payne: What do you think Inuvik can teach the world? 

Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik: There’s a lot of things that I believe Inuvik and the Beaufort Delta can teach the world. First and foremost is about respect. We needed to live up here. I mentioned it earlier and I can’t overstate the fact that we’ve learned to live on one of the harshest areas of this planet by working together. When you’re out on the land, there’s no such thing as politics. There’s no left wing, there’s no right wing.

We all belong to the same bird trying to make a living. And you know, I think the respect that people have and should have for one another as individuals, whether you agree with people or not. Those are traditional teachings for us. Sharing and caring is a key aspect. You see somebody in need, whether they’re Gwich’in, Inuvialuit, non Indigenous, you stop what you’re doing and you go over and you help those individuals. And, last but certainly not least, our humour. I believe it was a coping mechanism for us to have a healthy degree of humour in anything that we did. A good story. That’s something that is actually going away, and I hate to say that, but our good storytellers are passing. And the art of telling a good story, typically involving harvesting practices, being out on the land. A good storyteller will exaggerate a little bit in the interest of entertainment.

But that’s a traditional teaching for us. We have so many families that have their storytellers. In the past, we had a handful of storytellers that, before we had the advent of television in our territory, when those individuals came to your home, that was your entertainment for the week, the month, the summer.

When you got a couple hours and you had one of our storytellers come in and regale people with humorous stories of how we lived up here in a difficult environment, really is something that I think is very special. 

Rodney Payne: Danny and I drove up to Tuck yesterday, and we were trying to imagine what it’s like to not be in a car or a house even in summer. And, and survive in the elements like that. And it’s really hard to. To put yourself in that place and think about it.

Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik: Just stop the vehicle, go out of the truck, and walk on the tundra.

Wherever you go, just walk a certain ways. What looks like a close distance is actually a long way, and could take you hours.

And it just looks like it’s right there, you should be able to run over and be back in 15 minutes.

Rodney Payne: Yeah.

Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik: You get an entirely different appreciation for what our ancestors went through in terms of traversing the territory.

Rodney Payne: I can’t even imagine how difficult that was. How do you think that traveling here can help people to better understand their impact on the world?

Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik: I think first and foremost seeing our construction all on piles. We’re dependent upon, our engineering is dependent upon a frozen layer of ground. And once that collapses then we start seeing some major changes and impacts here. A lot of things will need to be rebuilt. If we have an entire collapse of the permafrost layer, for example. What does that do to ground stability? We already see the slumping in our territory. We’re experiencing the flooding. Not so much the fires yet, but we know that’s coming. It’s inevitable. It’s hitting every region in the country. 

So I think for people to come up to this part of the world and go to places like Tuktoyaktuk, where you’re losing almost an entire community to the ocean, rising sea levels, seeing that firsthand, seeing what’s happening with some of the pingos melting. I think it’s important for people to better appreciate some of those changes, because when you’re living in a larger centre like Vancouver, Toronto, New York, you don’t see that, it’s all a concrete jungle. 

But when you see the nature here and how it’s being impacted, when you go to any coastal region across the globe, especially Indigenous communities, you see the changes happening in terms of erosion, rising levels. You have communities needing to be relocated as a result, because what was once their fishing grounds, and they’ve been in low lying areas for centuries, they’re now having to relocate to higher ground.

I think people realizing that and seeing the financial and the personal and emotional cost that global climate change is bringing to the world, I think only then will people fully begin to comprehend some of the changes that we’re seeing up here.

Rodney Payne: Are you hopeful or frightened for the future?

Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik: I’m always hopeful. Our Elders had a saying that hard times are coming. There’s going to come a time when food is scarce, that people have a hard time making a living, that water will be hard to find, and they advise us of our need to get back to the land.

And I don’t see that as something that is there to scare us, but rather prepare us. That we cannot lose sight of the fact that we do need to be able to be out on the land if we ever did need to get back there. 

And as I stated this morning at the show, weathering the storm has been something we’ve done for generations. And yes, we are facing some existential threats right now in terms of climate change, mental health, and addictions. But it’s a period of difficult times that we just need to weather the storm and work together as best we can, because things will get better again. It’s very cyclical. It’s another thing we’re taught.

Good times come and go. And so I’m always hopeful for the future, so that when we do get into good times, they’re really good. And when things are difficult, you’re doing what you can just to hold the fort until times get better again. And they will. So I always maintain a level of optimism there. You have to. Because the alternative is just a non-option. A non-starter in my opinion.

Rodney Payne: If you had a magic wand, what would you change about the world? 

Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik: I would change that you shouldn’t need a magic wand to change things. Ha, ha, ha. Really, I think it’s just small things at a time. We glamorize the GOATs, right? The greatest of all time.

We glamorize the people that have achieved this unachievable level of success. And we don’t celebrate the small wins. Somebody coming to somebody’s home. With a pot of soup, or a casserole, or the kindness that’s out there that happens every day that goes unnoticed or unrecognized.

Getting back to the small wins, that is something that is very valued in our Gwich’in culture. Is just doing the little things for no recognition. If you are getting recognition, then you’re doing it wrong. And just doing things with a good heart. And if I had a magic wand, that’s really what I would try to achieve is trying to rid ourselves of the world that we seem to be finding ourselves in, is where people can’t do good deeds without recognition. And I think you change the world by doing that one step at a time.

Rodney Payne: What do you wish the community of Inuvik knew that they don’t know? 

Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik: Just how special and unique we are. Right?

We’ve got two Indigenous nations here. We’ve got non-Indigenous people. We’re a very diverse community. And we are an area of the world that people, when they get here, they’re just completely awestruck. We look at this as being, at times, being less than what you could find in the south. Our major centres are Edmonton. Vancouver. So people see what we don’t have. And what we do have, our most precious resource, I always say it, is our people. And some of the Elders that have passed here in recent years have been incredibly special people. And the world is a less brighter place for not having them around these days. That’s our community spirit. But what needs to happen is others need to fill that void. Others need to come up. We have Elders in our community that don’t know they’re Elders yet. But they are, just in how they approach things. And we need to see people rise up to that. 

That’s how we’ve survived for generations, is through leadership, through community support people. As some pass, others come in and fill their role. And do better, to be honest. That’s really the nature of life. And I think when people recognize just how people, some of the, how special some of the people that we take for granted in this community are, I wish people could see a little bit more of that.

And they do. A lot of people do. But a lot of people don’t. And I think aside from our lands and resources, our people will always be our greatest resource.

Rodney Payne: What brings you joy? 

Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik: The Edmonton Oilers winning the Stanley Cup, country music. To be honest, seeing an underdog come back. Seeing somebody that people write off in our communities. Achieving something that people once thought impossible.

Our young people taking pride in themselves. There’s a lot of things that bring me joy. Having a story, being blessed with a story from an Elder. Having them call or see you in person, be able to share something with you. Those are the types of things that bring me joy. And just being around a lot of our friends, family, broader community. Like we’re going to be tonight in terms of celebrating our music and dancing. They’re all very heartwarming events.

Rodney Payne: Thank you for taking a moment to share your story with us.

Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik: No, thank you. Mahsi’. I really appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts in this regard because it’s important for us to be telling our story.

Rodney Payne: Thank you.

Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik: All right. Thank you.

David Archer: That was Rodney Payne with Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik of the Gwich’in Tribal Council. And to close this episode, we’d like to share a brief interview with Bambi Amos, a traditional Inuvialuit artist whose creations keep her close to her culture and the environment. She told us a bit about her perspective on that and on travel to Inuvik.


Bambi Amos: My name is Bambi Amos and my Inuvialuktin names are Tagyiluk and Aullaran. I’m named after both of my grandmothers. And I am a traditional Inuvialuit artist.

Rodney Payne: Very cool. Do you think tourism is important for Inuvik?

Bambi Amos: Yes. Yep. I think that tourism has always been a big part of Inuvik. Being so close to the Arctic Ocean and having the Dempster Highway. Growing up here in Inuvik, I always saw tourists here every summer.

Rodney Payne: And what does it bring to the place to have – to host visitors?

Bambi Amos: I think a lot of experience. And different cultures coming in and sharing. And also being able to share our culture.

Rodney Payne: I just saw your, some of your crafts, and they’re really beautiful. And obviously, there’s the physical aspect of connecting with people through products, but do you find that the conversations that you get to have with people also a part of the exchange?

Bambi Amos: Oh yeah, big time. Yes.

Rodney Payne: Yeah, in, in what way?

Bambi Amos: Being able to appreciate. I think appreciation is a big part of it. In thinking about like what you work with, your medium and people being curious and really appreciating what you do.

Rodney Payne: Where do people come from to visit?

Bambi Amos: All over. Yeah, all over. I see the European RVvehicles. Yeah, and all over, all over Canada, the United States.

Rodney Payne: And do you think there’s a certain type of traveler who gets the most out of coming here? Are there what’s the right type of visitor to come up here?

Bambi Amos: Definitely adventurous. They have to be adventurous, especially to drive up the Dempster Highway. Yeah.

Rodney Payne: What do you hope that people leave with when they come to visit this very special part of the world? What do you hope that they take home?

Bambi Amos: Satisfaction. Yeah. I think being able to experience different things, different part of the world. We’re so unique. Every part of the world is unique, but we are very unique. And it’s, I think, like a certain type of person that comes up here to experience the North.

Rodney Payne: What do you think Inuvik can teach the world?

Bambi Amos: I think that we’re, we’re really grounded in our roots, and our nature, our culture, our language. 

Rodney Payne: What do you wish the world knew about Inuvik that they don’t know?`

Bambi Amos: I think I could go back to how special this region of Canada is. Being so close to the Arctic Ocean, right on the boreal forest tree line, and being close to nature. 

The challenges that I see is, more of a modern way of living and being able to adapt to that. Yeah, it’s definitely a challenge. From living off the land fully to, you know, being housed and going to school and like different foods, the nutrition is totally different and, yeah.

Rodney Payne: Mm.

Bambi Amos: Yeah. Alcoholism and yeah, addictions in general, yeah.

Rodney Payne: What support do you think northern communities need from other places that they’re not getting?

Bambi Amos: I think learning and education is key, and having the ability to have an open mind and learning, I guess, the new ways of living for Indigenous people.

Rodney Payne: Do you think that the travel experience and that opportunity to connect as humans without devices in between us or media in between us is an opportunity for learning?

Bambi Amos: Oh yeah, yep, travelling for sure. 

Rodney Payne: Yeah. 

Bambi Amos: Mm-hmm.

Rodney Payne: How do you think the travel experience helps people to learn?

Bambi Amos: Engagement, learning, or meeting new people. Mm-hmm. 

Rodney Payne: Yeah. Okay. Awesome. Thank you so much. 

Bambi Amos: Yeah. 

Rodney Payne: Yeah. It’s nice to talk to you.

Bambi Amos: You’re welcome. [Quyanainni]. 

Rodney Payne: Yeah. What does that mean?

Bambi Amos: Thank you. Yeah.

Rodney Payne: How do I say that? 

Bambi Amos: Quyanainni. 

Quyanainni. Yeah.

Bambi Amos: The K makes a K sound. 

Rodney Payne: Yeah. 

Bambi Amos: But the Q makes a [glottal sound]. So [sound].

Rodney Payne: Okay. Quyanainni.

Bambi Amos: Yeah. 

Rodney Payne: Very cool. Yeah. I learned something.


Tyler Robinson: Thanks for joining us. This has been Travel Beyond, presented by Destination Think. This episode, we heard from Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik of the Gwich’in Tribal Council and traditional Inuvialuit artist Bambi Amos. We’ll include links to more resources on the blog at, including a link to some of Bambi’s incredible creations. 

I’m Tyler Robinson. My co-host is David Archer, who co-produces the Travel Beyond podcast with Sara Raymond De Booy. David produced this episode and composed its theme music. Lindsay Payne and Annika Rautiola provided production support. 

We would like to thank the Town of Inuvik for sponsoring this season, and we’re grateful to the many community members, including Indigenous leaders, who shared their time and stories with us. 

You can help more people find this show by subscribing and leaving a rating and a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. 

Next time, we’ll hear more from Jackie Challis, former Director of Tourism and Economic Development at the Town of Inuvik. See you then.


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