Kathy Kettler becomes 1st Inuk appointed to chief of staff position

Kathy Kettler, middle, used to work as the deputy chief of staff for Marc Miller, left, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations. She’s been promoted to chief of staff for Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal, right. (Marc Miller/Twitter)

An Inuk woman has been promoted to chief of staff of Minister Dan Vandal’s office at Northern Affairs Canada — the first Inuk to hold this position.

Before her promotion, Kathy Kettler, who has roots in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik, was the deputy chief of staff for Marc Miller, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations.

Some of her past work focused on reconciliation and missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

“It’s quite an honour to be able to do this work,” she said.

“The thing that I really appreciate is how this government is putting an emphasis on ensuring that there’s diversity and inclusion, and Indigenous participation in some of the top offices.”

Kettler began her career in federal politics in November 2017 as a senior advisor.

She said a lot of her actions come from her perspective as an Inuk woman.

“I was able to bring a lot of the work that I had done previously outside of federal politics,” she said. “One of the great things about working in this government is being able to contribute in a very meaningful way.”

Kettler said when she made her move to federal politics from working with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, where she helped work on the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy, it put her in a position to help write the strategy, help fund it and “make sure that it moves forward in a way that’s meaningful for Inuit.”

“So, being able to help my people in a way that I was never really able to before has been really grounding and inspiring work,” she said.

The promotion, which came this month, was long overdue, said Miller.

“She’s very passionate about her work and deeply invested in making sure that the relationship with Canada has with her people is one that is a priority in government,” Miller said.

“But also [she has] sort of a quiet forcefulness to her that makes her someone to be reckoned with.”

Kettler says she hopes other young Inuit are inspired to enter politics at any level.

“It’s definitely a great way to get involved and share your voice and be able to help guide the way that this country moves,” Kettler said.

With files from Teresa Qiatsuq

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: What northerners are saying about truth and reconciliation this year, CBC News

Finland: Sami Parliament in Finland agrees more time needed for Truth and Reconciliation Commission preparation, Eye on the Arctic

Greenland: Danish PM apologizes to Greenlanders taken to Denmark as children in 1950s, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Can cross-border cooperation help decolonize Sami-language education, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Sami in Sweden start work on structure of Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Eye on the Arctic

United States: Alaska reckons with missing data on murdered Indigenous women, Alaska Public Media

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