“It’s really an honour I carry on my shoulders,” the 18-year-old says from her home in Pond Inlet, NU. “The territories are not always the first people to be invited to the table.”
Zoe has won gold and silver medals at the 2017 Dwarf World Games. She was a member of the Canada’s History Youth Committee. Currently in her last year of high school, Zoe is considering all of her career options, including everything from social media marketing to different roles in northern education.
A national disability benefit will significantly impact people in the territories, Zoe says. With no roads connecting Nunavut to the rest of Canada, the cost of living is higher in the North.
Additionally, the territories don’t always have the infrastructure to assist people with disabilities, like working ramps and elevators, and health-care resources are more limited.
“Having additional income for Nunavummiut – residents of Nunavut -with disabilities could change people’s lives tremendously, more noticeably than someone down South,” Zoe explains.
Zoe has dwarfism and says her community has always supported her. “I was raised in a community that let me prosper for who I was. They’ve let me be me. They don’t look at me as if I have a disability: I’m just Zoe,” she says.
She wants all people with disabilities to have a similar experience. She knows it can be hard when people make wrong assumptions about what she can and can’t do because of her disability. But she’s “hopeful” for the future. “We’re at a time in the world where everything is changing, and hopefully we can take all that we’re learning right now and change for the better. I don’t feel scared. I just feel ready for change.”