An Interview with Nancy MacNeill

Q. : Where were you born?

R. : I was born in Frobisher Bay, Northwest Territories which is now Iqaluit, Nunavut. I attended, in this order, Mildred Hall, JH Sissons, William MacDonald and then Sir John Franklin which is where I graduated. All in Yellowknife. And I’ve been in Yellowknife since I was four years old. I love it here. I don’t think I’ll ever leave!

Q. : Why is that?

R. : This is home – it’s where my family is. It’s where I fit. It’s not always an easy place to live, but it’s very much my place. I think the only thing that would get me out of here, would be ticks!

Q. : Where did you go for post-secondary and what training did you take?

R. : I went to the University of Lethbridge, like a lot of Yellowknifers, because it’s a small school and it’s not too far away. I did a Bachelor of Arts in political science and history. It was interesting. I would say it doesn’t have a huge bearing on what I’m doing now – it was good, but it gave me more of a social education than a practical one. When I came back to Yellowknife, I jumped right into health promotion, youth engagement, women’s work, so that was where more of my job skills happened.

Working where I work right now, I’m working in Indigenous health and wellness; so, it’s like I’m surrounded by people who are all about community and public health all the time and it’s awesome!  

Q. : Why did you chose this path? Was it a straight path out of high school, or did you take a break and change your mind?

R. : University was the diversion from my path and then I got back on it. I knew in high school that I was going to work with youth – with marginalized people and in terms of empowerment and to create a better society for themselves. Giving people good information so that they can make good choices for themselves. I’ve had a couple of weird departures from that path; I got a job in advertising sales. But then I started FOXY and that was me getting back onto my path. I think I needed to get away from doing it, to realize it was something I couldn’t live without. But when this job came up, I was like, yes, this is exactly what I want to do. I have a team, I have amazing bosses that support me endlessly. We are able to be responsive to community needs.

Q. : Do you have any words of advice for students thinking about taking their next steps after school?

R. : Try everything! Go to a trade school, go to a community college, go and travel – do all of it and figure it out. Because it’s a good moment to do it. The truth is that when you’re young you have an idea of what your passions are, but there are probably going to be a million ways for you to achieve those passions. And you don’t want to restrict yourself. Most people don’t get into something early and stick with it forever. I’ve had major diversions! And I’m glad for those things. Try it all and don’t limit yourself.