Inuvik’s call to the world: Hear our stories, learn our lessons

Sara Raymond de Booy

31 October 2023

The North has a lot to teach us. We listen and learn about what drives this community’s values and its approach to making tourism work for locals.



The residents of Inuvik and the North are living at the front lines of climate change. As the community faces coastal erosion, infrastructure collapse, and impacts on wildlife, livelihoods and traditions are at risk. In this episode we speak with Jackie Challis, former director of Tourism and Economic Development at the Town of Inuvik, who emphasizes the need for the travellers to listen to the voices of those being impacted, especially the Indigenous communities with millennia-long ties to the land.

Jackie’s conversation with us details the importance of learning from Inuvik’s experiences, adapting to the changing world, and becoming advocates for preserving the Arctic environment.

You’ll also learn:

  • Why respect is growing for the North as a travel destination.
  • About local values and Inuvik’s heart and soul.
  • About the struggle to integrate the travel industry into community life in service of residents.
  • Key challenges of balancing economic livelihood with culture and climate.
  • Why more northern and Indigenous voices need to be heard, and what they can teach the rest of us.


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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.

Inuvialuit – The Inuvialuit are an Indigenous people of the Western Canadian Arctic. Today, many of the 5,000 Inuvialuit reside in the communities of Aklavik, Inuvik, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Tuktoyaktuk and Ulukhaktok. 

Town of Inuvik – This town 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. 

Episode transcript

Jackie Challis: Tourism is not just about visiting a place, it’s about an exchange of ideas, and culture, and learning. And I think people in the North don’t feel heard. You often have people, like myself, from the south, who feel like they should be telling the story. And really, the voices of the people that are here, that have been here from the beginning, should be telling the story of the effects of the environment and the effects of climate change.

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 village of Daajing Giids, British Columbia, which is 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, and 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: Welcome back, Tyler, and congratulations on your podcast debut last time.

Tyler Robinson: Thank you. Thanks for ushering me through my first. 

David Archer: So in episode one of our Inuvik season, we heard from two Indigenous leaders, Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik of the Gwich’in Tribal Council and Bambi Amos, a traditional Inuvialuit artist. We’re starting to get a sense of the local cultures and traditions, and today we’re going to hear more about local life and how Inuvik approaches tourism as well by speaking with Jackie Challis, who at the time of this interview was the Director of Tourism and Economic Development at the Town of Inuvik. She’s since moved on from that role, but we know that she made a tremendous impact during her years there, and we wish her all the best in her next steps. 

Tyler, like we mentioned last time, you worked with Jackie and her team to lead the development of Inuvik’s tourism marketing strategy in 2020, and in this interview, Jackie talks about the community consultation process and how the environmental stewardship or sustainability piece wasn’t just an add on, it was actually core to doing any marketing at all, or all of the conversations about travel.

 She says, “I think the uniqueness of our plan is that stewardship and guardianship of land, people, culture, and places and stories.” Can you talk about the stewardship aspect of that project?

Tyler Robinson: Yeah, Jackie is absolutely right. Sustainability was definitely not an add-on. Strategy documents can often be organized into strategic pillars, and maybe one of those pillars could speak to sustainability objectives. In this project, we wove concepts of sustainability into every single strategic pillar.

These are the best practices we usually recommend, but it’s particularly fitting for a place like Inuvik where sustainability is not an add-on to their culture, it’s integrated into every aspect of their way of life.

David Archer: And you’ve worked on strategies for several destinations since Inuvik. What does it look like when a destination or place is fully engaged in sustainability efforts? Or are you still waiting to see that happen?

Tyler Robinson: You know, it really starts with the people and their sense of accountability and ownership. Sustainability roles are not just the ones with sustainability in the job title. Every job is a sustainability job and every citizen has a role to play. So when a critical mass of people are being proactive in determining how their role in society can support sustainability objectives, that’s what engagement looks like.

And that’s when true change actually happens.

David Archer: That sounds like that’s a question of mindset. Would you say?

Tyler Robinson: Yeah, it’s a question of mindset for sure. It’s a question of values and, and knowledge of the crisis. It’s kind of a few different ingredients that come together, that cultivate or catalyze change within a particular population.

David Archer: As you work on travel, do you find that there are some inherent conflicts between sustainability and travel or like, how do you handle those situations where you might have some cognitive dissonance or community members might feel that, like with long haul air travel, for example, to a remote community when you need to balance that economic need to bring people in with the need to care for the environment?

Tyler Robinson: This is a tough one and one that I really struggle with personally quite a bit, because I love to travel. I love to see the world and immerse myself in different cultures. And often in my past, that’s meant getting on an airplane. 

In most cases, the biggest negative impact that we have when we travel comes from our transportation to the destination. And so even if you’re an incredibly responsible and conscious consumer once you get to the destination, and you stay in an eco-lodge, and you respect the culture, and you engage in a sustainable manner, your flight is causing a disproportionate impact, so it really can offset a lot of those potential positive impacts you might have when you arrive. 

And the reality, unfortunately, is that clean long-haul aviation is still many years away. Even by the end of this decade, by 2030, we’re still going to be some years away from its implementation. We might have shorter haul domestic clean aviation in the form of hydrogen or battery technology, but there’s really going to be a challenging transition period in between, where we’re going to have to continue to grapple with this question.

Ideally in the meantime, we travel a bit closer to home or more regionally, where there are alternatives to flying, or just be really intentional when you go about deciding to get on a plane and being conscious of the impacts that you’re really having by doing so. 

This conversation has another layer of complexity when we’re talking about a remote destination, like Inuvik, where air travel is much more of a lifeline for them than many other destinations in the world, a lifeline to family, to health care, and other essential services. 

And this also opens up the discussion of systems change because individual choices can only take us so far. We need to advocate for and put in place clean transportation systems so that people have options available to them to make responsible choices at the end of the day.

David Archer: Yeah, there’s so much in that conversation about aviation, but also, as Jackie will talk about in this interview, the need to balance or find harmony between our economic needs, balancing that with culture and, and the needs of the environment too.

Tyler Robinson: Yeah. It’s a challenging balancing act that many destinations around the world are grappling with.

David Archer: Yeah. In this interview coming up, Jackie emphasizes that Northern voices need to be heard more often. And that’s something I want to mention here too. And this, that’s one reason I’ve been really excited to share this season, is that it gives us all an opportunity to listen to people from a place that maybe we don’t very often. You mentioned individual choices can only take us so far and one thing I’m learning from Inuvik is that there is strength in community. And Jackie really does a good job of painting us a portrait of how that is up there, and how travel intersects with global issues and local life.

So here’s the conversation between Rodney Payne, who is our CEO-on-location, and Jackie Challis, former Director of Tourism and Economic Development at the Town of Inuvik. 

Jackie Challis: I’m Jackie Challis, and I’m the Director of Tourism and Economic Development here at the town. 

Rodney Payne: And what do you love most about Inuvik? 

Jackie Challis: I love the people. It’s the people who have such a connection to the place, and they just bring that with them everywhere they go.

Rodney Payne: When you’re away, what do you miss? 

Jackie Challis: I miss the closeness of the community. Everywhere you go, people are like, “Oh, hi, good morning.” Or you’re going, “Oh, I’m good.” And when you go somewhere else, you realize that that’s not the case everywhere else. Everyone is just a face, and here it’s somebody you know. It’s a neighbour, it’s a friend, it’s a family member.

Rodney Payne: And for people who haven’t heard of Inuvik been here, can you describe the place? 

Jackie Challis: Sure. I think Inuvik is one of those places that people dream about. People in the South, they always say, I wanna go to Inuvik, I wanna go north of the Arctic Circle.

People that live here, I think just have an inherent love for the place. And it’s a place that you’re in the delta, you’re part of the mountains, you’re part of the river connected out to the coast and the ocean. And I think that Inuvik just speaks to that, the land and the people here.

Rodney Payne: And where are we sitting?

Jackie Challis: So we’re just here at the Inuvik Welcome Center, here in the center of Chief Jim Koe Park in Inuvik.

Rodney Payne: And you’ve got a lovely new venue behind you.

Jackie Challis: Yes, this boardwalk is part of the Inuvik Welcome Centre where we hold our Arctic Market each Saturday in the summertime. It also is a place of community venues, so we’ve had hand games here last year, Indigenous Peoples Day. Inuvialuit Day was just celebrated here on June 5th, so it’s hopefully going to be a community gathering place in the future.

Rodney Payne: I love the intersection of having a place where visitors can come and also brings the community together.

It’s a lot of potential for the visitor center in places to be that, that meeting point.

Jackie Challis: And that’s what it should be, right? Like, Chief Jim Koe Park is a place that holds the heart of a lot of people here in Inuvik. And so, we also have a very short time that we’re outside in the summertime, right?

So it’s really just a few months where we all are outside. And so to have a place, a gathering place, that is a place for us to come and to experience our own joys with arts and crafts and activities, but also, yeah, like you say, to have visitors come and be able to sort of peer into our world is a great place to do that.

Rodney Payne: The summer is precious. How else would you say that the lifestyle here differs from what it’s like below the Arctic Circle?

Jackie Challis: In the summertime, visitors are always shocked, not just by the sunlight, because it’s 24-hour sun from middle of May to July, and you’ve got 56 days of, the sun never sets.

But we hear from visitors a lot that, you know, at 10 or 11, they’re expecting that we’re going to bed, and that’s when people are out. People are barbecuing, families are walking with strollers. Our softball and baseball tournaments usually start at 9pm and go until 2 or 3 in the morning.

So, that’s a big difference. And yet in the wintertime, it’s the complete opposite, where for the month of December, the sun doesn’t rise. So we spend a lot of times doing crafts with families, indoor, community gatherings, dances, and feasts. So I think that the way that people relate to each other is also the way just the cycle of light and the cycle of life here happens.

Rodney Payne: What would you say are the values of Inuvik? 

Jackie Challis: I think people value family, people value culture, people value the land and the animals and the resources. Arts and crafts is really important here and the connection from tradition, so passing on language is important, helping each other out.

You hear of northern hospitality, but I think it’s beyond that in this community. I think it’s a connection of a genuine care for others and care for your neighbour, just like they are your family. And in a small community, many people actually are their family. So that makes sense.

Rodney Payne: Why do people come all the way up here?

Jackie Challis: To be honest, I think the reason that people come is shifting a little bit, but there is definitely a core group of people where it is a bucket list place. They want to come north of the Arctic Circle. They want to go to the Arctic Ocean. They want to see authentic Indigenous culture. And they’re listers. 

But I think when I say that things are changing, I think that before, it was a surface list. And it was, we want to come and do the list, and we want to go. And I think now, people are coming because they want to integrate. They want to actually be part of the story, not just read it. 

And I think that that shifting understanding of really wanting to know the Indigenous people, the culture, the ways of life, and what affects us, what affects the environment, changes in climate, all of those things. I think those inquisitive questions are becoming more so why people are coming and not just to check things off a list.

Rodney Payne: You recently created a tourism plan, and we had the chance to work with you on that. Can you tell us a little bit about what you heard from the community?

Jackie Challis: Yeah, there was stakeholder interviews, and there was, you know, the community consultation. And one of the pieces that we heard that was important to this strategy is that oftentimes when you read a marketing plan, it’s marketing on one side, and then as a side thought or an afterthought, you have this sort of environmental sustainability or stewardship.

But I think the uniqueness of our plan is that stewardship and guardianship of land, people, culture, and places, and stories actually was such an inherent part that that resonated with people. 

Rodney Payne: And do you think that comes from the rich First Nations cultures that permeate this region? 

Jackie Challis: Yeah, so in Inuvik we have both First Nation and Inuit, so the Gwich’in being the First Nation of here. And then the Inuvialuit, which are the Inuit of the Western Arctic. So, we have both First Nation and Inuit here. We also have Métis. And I think that definitely having the three Indigenous groups here and the primary groups that live here – really have been here for millennia, right? They’ve been here from the beginning.

And us non-Indigenous here are guests and are learning that way of life.

Rodney Payne: You have a pretty big job, where you’re responsible for economic development, and tourism is a part of that. When you think about the different priorities, different community, and different stakeholders, how would you describe sort of the, the competition or the tension between those priorities?

Jackie Challis: I think it’s always a challenge. I think it’s ongoing. I think it’s a constant sort of balancing act. For me, tourism is a tool for economic development. It’s certainly not the only aspect, but it’s an important part. And I think that understanding how all the stakeholders play a role in that, whether that’s, you know, service providers or independent store owners, but also arts and crafts, the Indigenous culture, like we just talked about in terms of why do people come, that’s why they come. So it’s not that tourism is a standalone, it’s not that economic development is a standalone, that there’s an integration that’s needed, and it is hard, the balancing priorities of trying to invite visitors, but trying to support businesses.

And first and foremost, when you work for a municipality, our role is to support our residents and to make this an amazing community to live that’s full of events and celebration and amenities that serve the residents. And to be honest, visitors are secondary to that. And that again is a unique piece of our plan because I feel like it really looked at, from our point of view, from a community’s point of view, what do we need to be sustainable in the long run as a people, as a culture, and as an economy? So learning how tourism fits into that is important for us.

Rodney Payne: If you think forward five or ten years, and you’ve been successful, and maybe the plan that you’ve developed takes hold, what would you love for Inuvik?

Jackie Challis: I would love for Inuvik to say this is ours, and to really own it and feel it. I hope that in five or 10 years, I don’t have to say a word that actually, hopefully I’d be out of a job.

And that, that sounds almost backwards, but that would be the dream, right? That the people would be so invested and be ready and willing to be part of that bigger picture of moving tourism and all of the pillars and all of the action items forward. That our youth are involved, the elders are involved, the community organizations are involved, and that it’s not even a question, it’s just something that becomes second nature.

Rodney Payne: One of the things we really circled around together in building the plan was the type of growth you want in tourism. How do you think about that?

Jackie Challis: Yeah, that’s, a difficult question, right? Because typically, when you hear about tourism marketing, even from other perspectives, is, how can we get as many possible tourists as possible? And really that is not our goal. 

We are looking to find the right kind of tourists that will come along in our journey of balancing our economic livelihood without compromising our environment, without compromising our resources, without compromising ourselves, and our culture, and what we need.

And so a visitor that understands that is the kind of visitor that we’re going after.

Rodney Payne: What was COVID like here?

Jackie Challis: COVID was very difficult here. We were so isolated in that we actually remained COVID-free for a very long time. And so it was very scary when the community first started to get cases, because we were almost a year after any other jurisdiction.

There’s such a pull to gather people together and to gathering and to be next to each other. And so to not be able to do that had a significant impact on people, to not be able to be with family, to not go in large gatherings, to not have feasts, especially when you talk about the winter months where there was no sunrise for 30 days. And you have long, cold winters, and you have people that are isolated and maybe struggling and away from family. So COVID really played a detrimental role, I think, on people’s like mental health. And I think that’s probably the case all over the world. We’re not unique in that, but certainly that effect was felt here. 

Rodney Payne: And how’s the time since, sort of, coming out of COVID?

Jackie Challis: You can really feel it, like how people are so excited. Oh, like I remember like one of our first community feasts and dance. And people were dancing and jigging, and they had music, and there was food, and it was almost like we had been quiet for so long and people were just so excited to get out and be with each other and see people laughing and, and we just can’t wait for more of that. 

Rodney Payne: How would you describe the current state of the environment and the local ecosystems here?

Jackie Challis: North of the Arctic Circle, our land is full of permafrost. That’s what we have as a base. I think we’re lucky in that we do have, fresh water. We live on one of the biggest freshwater deltas. We are on the coast. We do pride ourselves in pristine land and animals and water.

However, the effect of climate change is significant and it’s not something that is far away. It’s not something that is in someone else’s backyard. It’s something that, actually, I think people here have been living with for years. 

Every building here is built above ground because it can’t sit on the permafrost because it melts. We have our coastal communities that are losing housing because of erosion. We have different effects on our animals and our wildlife and the sea ice. So the effects are real, but they’re, they’re also not just all of the sudden. They’ve been accumulating for quite a long time, and it affects the people here. It affects the way of life and potentially will do more so in the future.

Rodney Payne: What’s being done to adapt?

Jackie Challis: I think that there’s probably a lot of other people here that are going to be able to tell you what they’ve had to do to adapt. From a municipality, we’ve had to change the way that buildings are done. The way that our piping is, the way that our water and our sewers, like, all of that has to do with climate change and the effects on permafrost. 

Rodney Payne: What’s the mood about these issues like amongst the community? 

Jackie Challis: I think that it’s a reality that people are grappling with and trying to figure out, you know, where do we go from here? Knowing that we have to continue living, that we all have to find ways to sustain ourselves, to sustain our economy, to have jobs. And at the same time, how do we not compromise the things that we need to do that, and the things that are important, not just for the environment or for the economy, but for ourselves and for culture? 

Rodney Payne: Do you think people feel heard by the rest of the country or the rest of the world?

Jackie Challis: I think commonly, I think people in the North don’t feel heard. I think that the voice is often overlooked, or it comes from somebody else. You often have people like myself, from the south, who feel like they should be telling the story.

And really, the voices of the people that are here, that have been here from the beginning, should be telling the story of, of the evolution of the effects of the environment and the effects of climate change.

I think Inuvik needs for the stories of the people here to be heard, and to be understood, and to be shared about what are the lessons we can learn from a community that is in the Arctic, that is actually experiencing climate change and not in the future kind of a way, but that has been for a long time.

People are literally dealing with it in small ways every single day, and they want to make sure that they’re part of that positive change, that they’re part of a solution moving forward. And at the same time, that it should be derived from people here in the north, who are on literally on the front lines of the effects of climate change. 

Rodney Payne: What do you think Inuvik can teach the world, when you think about the rich traditional knowledge that’s here?

Jackie Challis: I think there’s a lot to learn here. The traditional knowledge that’s held here from the Gwich’in, the Inuvialit, the Métis that have been here from the beginning, I think the knowledge they have of the land and the changing, just from weather, to animals, to impacts, to food sources, to all of those impacts, I think that the knowledge they hold is a great wisdom that we in the Western world, or non-Indigenous people, have a lot to learn from.

And then you also have here in Inuvik, you have the organizations like the Aurora Research Institute who have international researchers that come from across the world, just to Inuvik, so that they can study climate change, effects of climate change, degradation on the environment, the effects on infrastructure, and also the social and environmental impacts culturally.

And I think that Inuvik needs to become almost like a center of excellence, in terms of traditional knowledge with the contemporary through the Aurora Research Institute and some of the other programs that are happening. And I just think that’s what Inuvik needs from the world is just that platform to be elevated. 

You have a base of traditional knowledge and Indigenous knowledge mixed with incoming researchers and science. So trying to balance that is important.

Rodney Payne: It’s a really exciting opportunity too, especially thinking about the beautiful natural environment and the national parks you’re surrounded by. It’s a really special confluence of ingredients. 

Jackie Challis: And the parks here are co-managed. So many of the national parks are co-managed with the Inuvialuit. And also we have the Territorial Park co-managed with the Gwich’in. Again, it’s that balance of realizing where we’ve come from with building in contemporary. 

Rodney Payne: Do you have any fears for the future of Inuvik?

Jackie Challis: I would be afraid of losing, like, the heart and soul of Inuvik. And again, that’s the people and the culture. And I think it’s only actually getting stronger. The reality is Inuvik, like many places in Canada, has a horrible history of residential schools. And the effect that that had on the local people and culture.

And I think that in the years to come, and with the youth and all of the work that the land claim organizations are doing, both the Gwich’in and the Inuvialuit, really trying to bring back language, and culture, and programming, and design structures that they’ve had from the beginning, but that make sense to them and that aren’t imposed.

And I think that that is where the future lies, is by self-governed ways of living.

I do think that even here, and I, I hate to say like, “Oh, finally Indigenous voices are being heard,” but I really do hope that becomes a reality. All over the world, the Indigenous Peoples are the ones that are the original knowledge holders of the place and the language and the land of which they come.

And so to have that be the louder voice in the room will bring the knowledge, I think, to the table. And as a non-Indigenous person, being able to step back and let that happen is what should be my role and that of others.

I think that there’s lessons to be learned if we’re willing to listen.

Rodney Payne: You and I’ve talked a little bit about the challenge of a dichotomy between the way of life that we all exist within that has been built upon really affordable and energy-dense fossil fuels and moving people and goods around being really energy intensive, and wrestling with the amazing benefits that travel brings.

How do you deal with that? 

Jackie Challis: That is a question, right? I mean, Inuvik, especially being in the north, when you talk about bringing resources, everything has to come that much further. It costs that much more. Our energy prices are more. Our transportation costs are more. But also, like, the carrying cost of what the impact is to bring an avocado to Inuvik is incredible compared to, like, what it probably is in some of the southern jurisdictions.

And trying to figure out, how do we balance that? How do we, tourism is an industry where you encourage people to travel. You encourage people to drive on the Dempster Highway. We encourage them to fly here 3,500 kilometers just to come from Edmonton. And yet, how do we balance that with the stories that are to be told here, and the knowledge that’s held here? To be able to have an economy that is bright and has a future, and yet doesn’t compromise the environmental sustainability or integrity of the world around us. And I think that’s a difficult question, and I don’t necessarily have the answer.

Rodney Payne: I think if we had the answer I probably wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you. 

What would Inuvik be like without tourists?

Jackie Challis: It would be pretty quiet in the summertime. I think it would be really quiet. But also, tourism is not just about visiting a place. It’s about an exchange of ideas and culture and learning. And, if we’re going to be able to talk to the world about the truth here, whether that truth is about our culture, whether that truth is about our, how we involve our environment and how we interact here, that that authentic story can only be told when you’re here.

And so, to not have the tourists here, to not have visitors come, you’re missing the second part of that story.

Rodney Payne: And the immersive part where you really absorb it. What advice do you have for other people who are facing similar challenges and grappling with similar things? 

Jackie Challis: If I had advice to others that are looking to try and balance tourism and the environment and climate change and where to go is to listen to those that have come before. 

Rodney Payne: Do you see travellers’ mindsets changing?

Jackie Challis: I think it is. I hope it is. I think, originally people sort of, they find a map and they say, I want to go there. And it’s just literally checking something off a list or saying, I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I’ve walked on that bridge, I’ve got that certificate.

But I do think that the mindset is changing. I think that people want to know more about the place. How did it get to be that way? Why is it that way? How can we be part of keeping it that way? And so those inquisitive minds, and hopefully better educated travellers, will help us inform a better industry moving forward with people that are willing to be part of a solution and not just a tourist, but actually an integral part to perpetuating the story after they’re gone.

Rodney Payne: What do you think the role of travel is in a world where climate change is accelerating?

Jackie Challis: I think that travel still is that ability for people to learn from other places, so to learn what’s working, what’s not working. What you love about a place, what kinds of food there are, all of those, what activities, but I think that travel also allows, once you’ve visited a place, is to instill that passion. And so travel allows you to learn and then to become an advocate of whatever place that you’ve been. And I think that if we can create strong stories that create people that leave as advocates and ambassadors and not just bucket listers, then we’ve done our job as a tourism destination.

Rodney Payne: Yeah, that’s very powerful. 

Are there any local people or organizations that are inspiring to you?

Jackie Challis: There’s a lot of groups that are inspiring to me. Again, I look back at our two local Indigenous governments, and both of them have integrated climate monitoring programs. They have their hunter-trapper committee, does work on monitoring the highway, monitoring change, in their landscapes, along the roadways, along their lakes, building youth advocacy in their organizations. It’s those stakeholders that really are pulling their own resources together. And they’re the ones that are going to perpetuate change.

Rodney Payne: If there’s one thing you wish your community knew, what do you wish you could impart? 

Jackie Challis: I think, and I don’t feel like someone that should be planting knowledge to be honest, but I feel like if I could say, you know, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that we have actually a lot of the answers. We already have, I think, the potential to find the answer and the potential to overcome. 

The resiliency of the people here is something that I have learned about. And that has taught me a lot about learning to come from challenge and change and adapt. I mean, Inuvik this year is 65 years old, which means that anybody that is above the age of 65 literally was, there was no town here. They were born in the bush, they were born on the land.

So we’re not talking about a long time ago, way back when. These are people still today. So that transition and that ability to adapt is something that I feel the people of Inuvik already inherently know. And so to just know that strength in their own selves, and to see it, and to feel it, and to believe it, I think is what I would want them to know.

Is that they have, I feel like they have all of the tools, and they have the background, and they have the knowledge, and they have the resiliency to come up with solutions that work for them. 

Rodney Payne: That’s a really lovely ending point. Thank you for having us up here, and thank you for trusting us with your community. I’m really excited to get a chance to meet some of the people that you’ve told me about. 

Jackie Challis: Yeah, I’m excited too.

David Archer: This has been Travel Beyond presented by Destination Think. And you just heard Jackie Challis, former Director of Tourism and Economic Development at the Town of Inuvik. We’ll include links to more resources on the blog for this episode at 

My co-host is Tyler Robinson, and my co-producer is Sara Raymond de Booy. This episode has been produced and has theme music composed by me, David Archer. 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 by leaving a rating and review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. 

Next time we’ll speak with two climate scientists visiting Inuvik to study the environment, and they’ll tell us a little bit about travel. See you then! 


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