Geographic Correspondents: What is Leadership?

Geographic Correspondents: What is Leadership?


Laakkuluk's children. "From left to right: Igimaq (my son), Baabi (a little girl named after my father as well as her own great-grandfather), Akutaq (my daughter) and Viivi Iqaluk (my friend's daughter, who's birth I attended)."

Amy: I like the topic of leadership. I look for it everywhere. Leadership!

Matthew: All I can think about with this topic is Rob Ford. Ugh

Amy: heeheeheeheee

Laakkuluk: I just shuddered.

Amy: I feel so sorry for him. I know I should not, but my heart breaks.

Matthew: And then I was thinking…What if one of our theatre leaders behaved like that? Like if Jill Keiley was on crack and came out and said it. OK, I got that out of my system.

Amy: We have to be so responsible and transparent with the pittance of money we get. One wrong move and we’re axed!

Laakkuluk: I keep thinking something along those lines too. What if any other Canadian than an arrogant, large white man in southern Canada was on crack? But it makes me think again that many MLAs in the Nunavut legislature are infamous too and they still get re-elected from time to time.

Amy: So true Laakkuluk. The lens through which we see it…Yeah, we are a forgiving species? Is that it? Or do we turn a blind eye: are we in denial when that happens?

Matthew: Sure, there remains support for flawed leaders.

Amy: I guess today I thought of leaders close to me who influence me every day.

Matthew: Like the photo you sent?

Laakkuluk: Amy – tell us more about Marlene Cahill.

Amy: Yes. I love that Laakkuluk sent a photo of the children. I thought, of course! Marlene is a person in our community that a lot of artists, theatre artists go to for help with the business side of their companies. She is helpful to many small companies and individual artists. We talk to her about our ideas and hash out how best to bring them to fruition. She does the accounting/bookkeeping for many companies, RCA Theatre included. She also sits on our Board. Rock solid, very dependable and is truly dedicated to the right thing in every situation. I love her! I guess leadership to me is collaboration.  If I am a leader at all it is because I like to hear all sides of the story, so we can make the best decision, sometimes taking bits from all sides. Giving a wide berth.

Laakkuluk: She seems like the kind of leader that supports many people to do what they are good at.

Amy: Yes. Very supportive. And we can trust Marlene. Trust is key as well. Matthew, what’s your take on leadership?

Matthew: Well. I have been a little stumped off the top with this one. I know several leaders in our community and I am having a hard time choosing. I could make a list of qualities, but there is something elusive to good leadership too.

Amy: Matthew, are you a leader, do you think?

Marlene Cahill Matthew: Yes, I am a leader.

Matthew: I am the artistic producer of a company.

Amy: Can you articulate a process of your leadership?

Matthew: Um, sure.

Slight pause in the conversation

Matthew: Sorry- the phone rang there. My lunch date cancelled. I’m back. It was Ian, a potential candidate for a photo this week.

Laakkuluk: Matthew got stood up, stuck with us…

Matthew: happy to be stuck with you, as Huey Lewis would say

Laakkuluk: 😀

Amy: 🙂 I am laughing out loud here!

Matthew: He was a leader of the News.

Amy: and gorgeous too!

Matthew: I definitely prefer to lead by collaboration. But lately that has changed.

Amy: Oh Matthew, that is interesting. What happened that caused a change?

Matthew: My colleagues are new to the company, and younger so more direct leadership is required.

Laakkuluk: Your new colleagues need more mentorship?

Amy: Like delegating tasks?

Matthew: I find myself changing language in emails to be more direct with requests, and asking for collaboration, so yes to both questions.

Amy: I guess with new colleagues you need to find the language that works, gets the results you need, whereas with the last colleagues, you may have had a short hand language?

Matthew: Yes, and encourage their voices and let them develop a shorthand.

Laakkuluk: I get what you mean about leadership being elusive, because it means you need to be adaptive to the group. You need to be able to absorb communication to do it well.

Matthew: Yes, communication is a key to good leadership.

Amy: I guess it is because once good communication happens, everyone knows which direction to move in. Everyone is moving toward the same goal, no confusion.

Amy: Laakkuluk, how do your children lead you? Is that a fair question?

Laakkuluk: Well – I struggled a bit with the question like Matthew at first because of Rob Ford for sure, and the recent Nunavut election. So like Amy, I looked closer to home and came back to a theme that I use a lot. Even in my tattoos. That my life is enveloped by the work of my ancestors and my descendants. Our naming system is based on the idea that souls transfer with names. All the children in that picture are named after beloved elders, including my father and his friends and the oldest of my mother’s cousins. So these kids who are exploring the world as if for the first time again, are actually our elders as well.

Amy: This shines a new light on the circle of life! I love it.

Laakkuluk: Just as much as I loved the old people and learned so much from them when they were alive. I get to love the children as they learn and absorb the world. The little girl that was named after my late father was adopted to a lesbian couple. We like to joke that my dad loved women so much that not only did he came back as a girl, he also has three mothers! His bio-mom and his two adoptive moms!

Ian Rye AerwacolAmy: When first asked the question I did think of our premier, Kathy Dunderdale. I think she is a good leader. She is smart. I just think she has put herself out there at times when members of her cabinet should be taking some of the hard questions. She needs communication people who will protect her, and a cabinet who will protect her. I hope they are working on that internally. Muskrat Falls is very controversial. But the pollution from Holyrood where we get our power now is very bad. Obsolete.

Laakkuluk: I think you may be saying that leadership isn’t just about being the head of a project but also about people believing in that role.

Matthew: Amy, tell us about Muskrat Falls.

Amy: Oh, well, Muskrat Falls is the development of the Lower Churchill Falls for hydroelectric power. Our government is working with the Innu and Inuit to come through their land. It is a very complicated project, and many points of view. The end result would mean the electricity would come across the Strait of Bell Isle down through to the east coast of Newfoundland, and across the Gulf of St Lawrence to Nova Scotia and down the eastern seaboard. It would be clean hydropower. Multi billion dollar project.

Matthew: There is the continued idea that political leadership is fraught with challenges and great scrutiny, as it should be.

Amy: True that. Good summation.

Amy: See you West and North!

Laakkuluk: See you East and West!

Matthew: Always a pleasure. Keep well.



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About the Authors

Amy House’s theatre career spans forty years. I know - she does not look that old! A comedienne, writer, actor, arts advocate, and Artistic Animateur of RCA Theatre Company in St. John’s, Amy has created several one-woman shows including: The Seven Faces of Amy with Maxim Mazumdar, ’Tis Not Human, To Be What You Want To Be, and Scratch and Pull.
I am an advocate for the deep human need for all people, but especially post-colonial indigenous people to express themselves at a level of creative excellence. A mother, student, writer and performer based in Iqaluit, Nunavut. I live in a household that speaks Greenlandic, Inuktitut and English. My work includes uaajeerneq – Greenlandic mask dancing, music, drum-dancing, storytelling and acting. Hunting, camping and eating wild foods are all activities that figure largely in my family.
Los Angeles native, Dana Dugan is an artist, acrobat, performer, pedagogue, academic, and mother based in Montreal. She was a founding member, programmer, and producer for the Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree at Concordia University under scholarship researching the circus body