Labrador's Amy Hudson answers 20 Questions

·9 min read

In 2019, Amy Hudson attended the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City, a world away from her childhood home of Black Tickle in Labrador. She said the experience was one of the high points of her life, one she was able to share with her daughter.

She's met interesting people and visited many interesting places through her work as governance and strategic planning lead with the Nunatukavut Community Council (NCC), which represents the Southern Inuit of Labrador.

Last year, Hudson completed a PhD in interdisciplinary studies from Memorial University, specializing in the areas of Inuit governance, research governance and community sustainability planning. With the NCC, much of her work involves liaising with the provincial government to help reclaim and revitalize Inuit education.

She is also NCC’s co-negotiator in Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination talks with the federal government.

NCC has been negotiating Indigenous rights since 2018, when it began formal talks with the federal government. Hudson hopes her work is seen as a way of giving back to her people and community.

“I feel an obligation, a responsibility,” she said. “I went away to university and all that stuff so I just want to be useful to my community, our people, our territory, to do what I can.”

1. What is your full name?

Amy Hudson.

2. Where and when were you born?

I was born in Black Tickle in July of 1982. I was raised there. I come from Inuit and European ancestry on both my maternal and paternal sides of my family, so the place where I grew up is the land of my Inuit ancestors, so I’ve been really privileged in my life to be born and raised in the land of my ancestors.

3. Where do you live today?

I live in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, I moved here in 2014.

4. What’s your favourite place in the world?

Definitely Black Tickle. My best and worst memories are there, I guess.

5. Who do you follow on social media?

I just recently signed up for a Twitter account. I’m not very good with technology, so I’m waiting on a friend and colleague to show me how to use it. I just found out the heart (symbol) means “like” and that’s philosophically troubling to me, but right now I’m trying to follow what’s going on politically and policy-wise in Canada.

6. What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’ve been met with some surprise when I tell people I have a teenager who will be 16 soon. I think they’re probably more surprised when I share stories about her … she’s pretty cool and amazing. She sees herself as a citizen of the world and she keeps me informed on what’s going on in the world. Perhaps the most interesting thing about me is likely her.

7. What’s been your favourite year and why?

That’s a difficult question, I have a lot of great memories. If I was to look back most recently, my favourite memory happened oddly enough in 2020. In the fall of 2020, I successfully defended my PhD, and my daughter attended my defence and got to be a part of all of that. That was special.

8. What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

Moving away from home, from Black Tickle, to go to university (in St. John’s). At the time, like many teens, I was super eager to go on to university and to experience living somewhere else. Up to that point, I hadn’t been exposed to many other places (and )it turned out to be really tough. It was a huge culture shock that has stayed with me all these years. That was when I started to learn how important my community and culture was to me and how much I really needed that connection to my home. I love that I’m back living in Labrador today and how I get to spend time in my home community for my work and I get to work with people from home. That’s been a huge reward for me.

9. Can you describe one experience that changed your life?

I’m one of those people that loves change. I just love change and I think it keeps life interesting to me. Lots of things have changed my life because I’m open to events changing and influencing my life. I love to learn and grow and evolve so I really look forward to change. I look for change every day.

10. What’s your greatest indulgence?

Upon reflection, given the past year, travelling has probably been my greatest indulgence. Even travelling for work. And chocolate, I eat it every day.

11. What is your favourite movie or book?

I don’t know if I could choose just one book, I just love books. I know people share books. A friend recently gave me one of their favourite books and I was very hesitant to take it (because) I like to keep all the books I read. I feel if I read a book it becomes a part of me, seeing them reminds me of who I was when I was reading it, what I was thinking. I like to read a lot of strong Indigenous scholarship. I read a lot of decolonizing, anti-colonial and Indigenous feminist stuff, like Linda Smith, Joyce Green, Jeff Corntassel. I read a lot in this area obviously to inform the research I do, I’m a researcher as well, but that reading takes up most of my time.

12. How do you like to relax?

Reading is obviously always relaxing. My sister and I don’t live in the same community and when we have a chance to visit and connect, I like to relax with her, sit back and watch “Criminal Minds” or “The Blacklist”, something like that, and we really just indulge in that for hours. (Also) walking. That’s where I get most of my thinking about research, writing and work done.

13. What are you reading or watching right now?

The fiction I’m reading is “The Shadow Land” by Elizabeth Kostova, but I’m just preparing to start reading a text by John Borrows and some others called “Braiding Legal Orders: Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

14. What is your greatest fear?

I try not to fear anything in life, but I do worry lots, increasingly like my grandmothers and mother, I’m becoming quite the worrier. I’m worried about the world my daughter is growing up in, I worry about her safety when she leaves home. I just want her to have opportunities to travel and discover the world, I guess my greatest worry and perhaps fear is that she and I won’t have the chance to explore more together before she graduates, That’s always been our big plan.

15. How would you describe your personal fashion statement?

My fashion statement, according to my sister and daughter, is fairly unimpressive. I don’t think too much about it, I guess it’s pretty casual.

16. What is your most treasured possession?

Aside from books, I don’t really keep things, I’m a fairly minimalist type of person, but I do have this shoebox full of stuff collected from my daughter over the years, some things she’s drawn and made for me. That and my books (are things) I’ve been able to keep secure over the moves we’ve made.

17. What physical or personality trait are you most grateful to a parent for?

I think my ability to persevere and work hard. I do work hard and try to find a solution or a pathway in any scenario. I grew up in a family and community where being resourceful was really necessary. There’s just this idea in life to make it work.

18. What three people would join you for your dream dinner party?

I think first, one of my great-grandmothers. She died when I was young, and I really regret not having more time with her and not having had a chance to hear her stories and talk to her about life and ask her questions. I often think about her and having the chance to do that. I would also have to say there’s probably a selection of political theorists and philosophers I would have found really fascinating to eat and chat with, such as Hannah Arendt. I really became enamoured with her while I was doing my MA in British Columbia. She was a fairly renowned political theorist and her work on violence and totalitarianism was really fascinating to me. Then I think Thomas Hobbes. Kind of a really odd guy, but western foundations of political philosophy have been intriguing to me.

19. What is your best quality, and what is your worst quality?

I’ve been told I have the ability to challenge dominant systems and colonial forms of thinking. I certainly don’t mind being challenged myself either, but challenging colonial systems of power and control are super important in my work life and my research work life, and my personal life as well as a parent and role model to my daughter. It’s really important to me that she be equipped with critical thinking and analytical skills that will allow her to do what she wants to do in the world, to do good in the world. My worst — I’ve been told I can have pretty high expectations at times. I do sometimes and I think, in some circumstances, this can strain relationships for sure, but I also try to hold myself to the same expectations I have (for others). I’d like to think that I’m forgiving, but I could probably work harder on that sometimes too.

20. What’s your biggest regret?

Not travelling more prior to COVID-19. Like many I would guess, always putting off that vacation.

Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram