10 Questions for Natan Obed
Natan Obed is the President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. He is originally from Nain, the northernmost community in Labrador’s Nunatsiavut region, and now lives in Ottawa. For 10 years, he lived in Iqaluit, Nunavut, and worked as the Director of Social and Cultural Development for Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. He has devoted his career to working with Inuit representational organizations to improve the well-being of Inuit in Canada.
1. In one sentence, describe why career development matters.
If done well and designed first and foremost with the career growth of an employee in mind, career development is a practical investment to both the organization and the person receiving opportunities to maximize their potential.
2. Which book are you reading right now?
Moonglow by Michael Chabon. I now know much more about model rocket design than I ever thought I would.
3. What do you do to relax?
I mostly play sports or get outside. I have always cleared my head in the wilderness, or “on the land,” as Inuit affectionately say.
4. Name one thing you wouldn’t be able to work without?
I have a trusty leather satchel I bought in 2002 that ensures I always have my work essentials with me. No matter where I go, even if it is just home for the evening, I like to have my laptop, notebook and briefing notes with me. I’m not a workaholic, but I like to be prepared to work at all times.
5. What activity do you usually turn to when procrastinating?
When procrastinating I often become an inspired organizer or cleaner. In these situations, the files I’ve left in a pile for months all of a sudden are in direct competition with the high-level, urgent issue that I am tasked with addressing.
6. What song do you listen to for inspiration?
I work best listening to music I know by heart because it is a type of noise cancellation for my brain, unlocking my ability to focus. Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s album “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” is one of my favourites, especially the song “Cowgirl in the Sand.”
7. Which word do you overuse?
I am always trying to improve my syntax and sentence structure when speaking publicly. Even with diligence, I still overuse the word “so” when starting a sentence. Perhaps confessing here will force me to improve.
8. Who would you like to work with most?
I enjoy the thinking that initiates the steps that lead to action, and all big solutions start with a collaborative and informal thought process. Therefore, I would like the opportunity to work in a more casual and direct way with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to improve the lives of Inuit. I believe he is sincere in his messaging about wanting a renewed relationship with Inuit, and there have been strong political gains for Inuit to date, but I often wish I could work through more big ideas directly with him about how to achieve our shared goals in this time of reconciliation.
9. What one piece of advice would you offer today’s youth?
Sincere humility has universal currency and utility.
10. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being a good father is my greatest achievement, but when I attain fluency in Inuktitut it will be right up there as well.