How I got started with WAYC: Introducing Monica Loreen Dillon
Updated: Aug 9
My name is Monica Loreen Dillon, I am a proud Inuvialuk. I was born and raised in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. I spent most of my childhood out on the land at our family cabin and on Kendall Island. My grandparents are Marylou (Julia) and Ernie Dillon, and my great grandmother was Sarah Tingmiak. After graduating high school, I moved to Edmonton, Alberta for post-secondary and I currently reside here with my partner, my two cats and a bearded dragon. While my diplomas were completed in the beauty industry, I now gear my focus toward administrative work and social media management.
I am thrilled to announce that I will be joining the Western Arctic Youth Collective team as the new Storytelling Coordinator! I’ve always been interested in working with youth, and social work in general. Being raised primarily by my grandparents, I embody deep values of family, culture and community. They showed me how important it is to take care of your own — whether it be your own family, or your own people. It’s always been a huge motivator for me to make my family proud: past, present and future. Past meaning my ancestors, and practicing our traditional ways of life in lieu of them not being able to; present meaning my current family surrounding me, my younger sisters in particular; and future meaning the family of my own that I hope to create one day.
I aim to be a good example that no matter where you come from, you can persevere and reach your dreams. Growing up as a youth in a small community, I see the importance of having a mentor you can relate and look up to — I aspire to be a face of influence for my family, my friends, our youth, and our people.
Since moving away from my community, I feel disconnected at times. When I’m physically away from my home territory, I start to grow apart from practicing my ways and adapt to the world around me. Ironically when I started to notice this, an opportunity with WAYC landed on my lap (or phone screen, shall I say.) It was for a Youth Mental Wellness Gathering in my hometown, which at the time I hadn’t visited for three and a half years. I am big on taking care of my mental health, so it was right up my alley! I applied, and our Director, Alyssa Carpenter, called me days later: I was registered and all good to go! I was over-the-moon excited. The gathering was scheduled near Christmas time, and that meant I’d be able to spend some time with my family too!
The gathering was very cathartic, it healed a void I was feeling for a long time. We shared a beautiful space together: expressing vulnerability and sharing stories, and showing those parts of ourselves that need to be acknowledged and supported. Still being a youth myself, it was so incredible to be able to participate in the program. I could see and feel the need for this program, and I connected with my younger self. I found myself wishing there was something like this when I was younger. I was impressed with how WAYC ran this program so wonderfully and I immediately felt compelled to be a part of it.
When I read that WAYC is about empowering youth to be change makers in their own community, that resonated with me. Often the staff hired on the team are former participants, just like me! When I expressed my interest, WAYC brought me on board.
Now being a part of Western Arctic Youth Collective, I am able to not only be in my home community more often but many other communities, too, and make an impact with the work that we are doing. I’ve never felt so passionate about such work. I am quite new to this position, but I’ve already learned so much and I’m excited to continue to grow into this position. You can find me online on the @waycwayc instagram page sharing resources/programming/etc, and by email at email@example.com.
Quyanainni! Hope to see you soon! :)