Cyril Gabreau

Nurse clinician in community health
Inuulitsivik Health Centre, Salluit

Cyril Gabreau

I have always been deeply interested in discovering care in different cultures. I participated in a few international projects in Nicaragua, Mali and Senegal. During my bachelor’s, I did a project in a northern village called Quaqtaq. While doing my master’s, I had to do one session of writing and I arranged to do it remotely. I applied to the Inuulitsivik Health Centre. The first time I went up North, I stayed for four months and then I went back to finish my master’s. Later, I returned up North again, and now have been here for seven years.

Everyone who comes up North is just passing through to different degrees. I haven’t worked in southern Quebec (referred to as ‘the south’ up North) since June 2013 and I wonder, if I went back, what I would do for work. Would I like it as much? I really don’t know. I love the freedom here, I like being able to do a lot with very little. I only go back south to spend time with loved ones, for the time being.

The Maison de la famille is a community organization for the Inuit, run by the Inuit, which I kind of instigated. We help out with food, offer parental courses and hold art and cooking workshops for youth. I meet with city hall and the city council and… they listen to me! Through my role, I have been able to develop ties with the community where everyone knows and appreciates me. It’s very dear to me.

In short

"Being up North presents a professional challenge in an unconventional environment and you need to learn to set aside several things you learned. We have to break down barriers for the work to get done. People don’t automatically trust you, you have to earn it. Once you do, then they recognize what you have to teach and your contribution. As a people, they are also going through a transition. Our medical system was imposed on them. "

After four months back south, I kissed a tree because there aren’t any up North and I missed them… But I don’t feel a cultural shock up North, I feel one when I go back south. It’s another world… I get shocked by overconsumption, overpopulation, and how fast-paced everything is.

I am happy to embrace this way of life, with just one co-op, no movie theatre, but with all of these other ways of creating a social life. I am still in discovery mode. I’m starting to experience the Inuit culture, their ways of seeing and thinking and it makes me appreciate the time I spend here even more.

I have a way with kids and families. I have to work with families in order to communicate my vision of community health. They are the ones who will be able to make decisions about improving their health conditions.