Have You Met… Elaine?

Have you met Elaine Alexie, Northern Community Engagement Officer in the Faculty of Native Studies? Spend the next few minutes getting to…

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Have you met Elaine Alexie, Northern Community Engagement Officer in the Faculty of Native Studies? Spend the next few minutes getting to know her a little better.

Where is your favorite place on campus?

The fourth floor of Cameron Library — I’m really fond of the Circumpolar Library. Every time I go there it’s so quiet, and the collection there is pretty amazing. I find it’s a good place to go even if I just need a refresher.

Tablet or paper?


Name one thing you’ve brought to work from home.

Home can be many things… I’m originally from the Northwest Territories. I was born and raised there, that’s where my family is from, and that’s where they currently live. So I have a fair bit of artwork here, and craftwork from members of my community.

I like to have these things around me to remind me of who I am.

What is the one thing you can’t live without?

Coffee. I love coffee — good coffee.

My partner and I, over the summer, we went to Seattle and scoped out coffee houses. We love third wave coffee houses, and we like to support third wave coffee.

Bonus question: do you have a favourite coffee place in Edmonton?

I do like Transcend… however, my favourite coffee roaster in all of Canada is 49th Parallel.

If you won airfare to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I’d probably go back home. During my grad school years, I didn’t get a chance to go home often. The more north you go, the cost of living and airfare are so extremely high… So if I had a free ticket anywhere, I would definitely go home.

You can invite anyone — alive or dead, real or fictional — to dinner. Who would it be?

My great-grandparents. They’re the source of my inspiration in all the work that I do.

If you could switch jobs with someone else on campus for a week, what would you do?

I would love to switch jobs with Anne Carr-Wiggin. I’m such a fan of books, and I really admire the work of librarians — what they do, and what they offer. So I’d love to switch jobs with her.

What does “uplifting the whole people” mean to you?

To me, it means providing a space for everybody to be together. I see the U of A as a giant family: students, researchers, service people, admin people. But the university doesn’t only involve this community — it involves the public. Our role is: how do we create a large family? To me, it’s about bringing together a whole bunch of different voices. We all have stories to tell — so how we can tell them together?

If you could solve any problem in the world, what would it be?

One of my biggest concerns right now is the shortage of water. A big part of my culture is that I’m a water person — my people, we live along the rivers. We use them for travelling, they’re a source of sustenance… Water is connected to everything.

What 3 words best describe your U of A experience?

Community. Research. And… being in the Faculty of Native Studies, it’s about family — the kinship relations we create with each other.

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A member of the Teetł’it Gwich’in First Nation, Elaine Alexie was born in the Northwest Territories and raised in her home community of Fort McPherson. She holds an MA in Political Science from the University of Victoria, and is currently the Northern Community Engagement Officer with the Faculty of Native Studies. She is responsible for advancing major initiatives, such as knowledge exchange; building relationships with Indigenous communities and organizations; and assisting in the development of institutional capacity for community-engaged research in the Canadian North. Her passions in life are being on the rivers in her ancestral lands of the Peel Watershed in the central Yukon territory, learning her peoples’ material cultural practices, and spending time with her large extended Gwich’in family.