Preparing For My Travels: Part One. The Importance of Being Whole

Jocelyn Joe-Strack is a Champagne and Aishihik First Nations scientist. Over the next four weeks she is embarking on a speaking tour of Canadian embassies in Europe to sharing her Indigenous perspective on Climate Change with senior diplomats, academics, youth and the public. She is a 2012 Alumna of the Jane Glassco Northern Fellowship program.



I have been invited by the Canadian Embassies to Spain, Sweden, Germany and France to share my understanding of the Indigenous perspective of climate change. For the month of February, I will travel in Europe with my husband, Scott, three-year old Lyla Jane and baby Eleanor Mbay. Beyond sharing my knowledge, I will also deepen and broaden my philosophy of how we can best live in harmony with Earth.

While abroad, it is important to be my best self and represent the best of my people. I’ve spoken with my Elders and Youth to ensure I bring the right message. I also want to promote our entrepreneurs. In preparation for my travels, I’ve collected pieces of art and knowledge to share.

During my presentations I will proudly wear this Abalone Button Blanket Shawl, created by Northern Tutchone/Tlingit artist, Kaylyn Baker.

I met Kaylyn at the opening for To Talk with Others – an exhibit at the Yukon Arts Centre in Whitehorse running until February 23, 2019. The exhibit offers interpretations of a 1977 transcript between Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Yukon First Nation’s leaders, including my father, Willie Joe, regarding the then approved Mackenzie Pipeline. Kaylyn contributed a beautiful beaded portrait of my father for the show.

Abalone “button blanket” shawl by Kaylyn Baker with a large beaded clasp featuring Swarovski crystals, moose antler button, 24-karat gold, garnet, BC jade, Chinese jade, emeralds, dyed porcupine quills & caribou hair tufting on home-tanned hide. The shawl also features a beaded collar and red lacing details w/ fine fringe & sheared beaver pompoms.

Beaded portrait of Willie Joe, former President of the Yukon Native Brotherhood. Prepared by Kaylyn Baker for “To Talk with Others”, an art exhibit that responds to the minutes of a meeting in August 1977 between Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau and five Yukon First Nations leaders regarding the then-approved Mackenzie Pipeline.

I lost my father to cancer when I was 13. Although, he was physically absent, I felt as if his spirit connected Kaylyn and I through his portrait. Beading requires great diligence and in my culture a women’s worth was based on her sewing ability. The required focus is thought to rouse transcendence.

I was so happy when Kaylyn agreed to make a shawl for my journey. When we met to discuss the shawl, I quickly realized what a true artist she is. She listens and finds inspiration in people’s experience. After hearing my story, she said she’d recently envisioned a rose pattern – which instantly felt right.

The rose was my mother’s favorite flower. Since childhood, I’ve picked and enjoyed snacking on Arctic rose petals, as my father taught me to do. I also spoke to her about my connection to water through both research and spirituality.

After presenting me with the shawl, Kaylyn shared that as she beaded she thought about my story and my philosophy of how to return to harmony – in turn, this shawl holds a special reflection of experience and aspiration. Her creation is absolutely stunning. I am awed and honoured to wear her vision.

Jocelyn Joe-Strack is a Champagne and Aishihik First Nations scientist. She is a 2012 Alumna of the Jane Glassco Northern Fellowship program.

Over the next four weeks she is embarking on a speaking tour of Canadian embassies in Europe to share her Indigenous perspective on climate change with senior diplomats, academics, youth and the public. You can follow her travels her, on Twitter @GlasscoFellows or @jocelynjs or by subscribing to The Gordon Foundation newsletter for updates.

Blog 1: An Invitation To Europe

Blog 2: Being Whole

Blog 3: Taking Time To Reflect

Blog 4: Reflections from Picasso

Blog 5: Indigenous reconciliation

Blog 6: Science, Reindeer & Knowledge

Blog 7: Youth Wisdom & Inspiration

Blog 8: Home