Kent Bretzlaff

Governance and Entrepreneurship in Northern and Indigenous Areas - master Online Centre for Sami Studies

After years of research, the GENI program was the first study program that checked all the boxes for me.


Graduated: June 2022

Current position: Executive Director, Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board 


Why did you choose to study the GENI program at UiT/USask?

I chose the GENI program because I always wanted to go on a ski trip in Norway and I figured why not add some education to the mix. Joking aside, after years of research, the GENI program was the first program that checked all the boxes for me. I was looking for a program that I could do by distance as I worked and lived in the north and that would provide exposure to a range of multidisciplinary topics from across the circumpolar region. 

 What do you think about the program?

The GENI program had it all. The course based portion helped me build foundational skills in policy, the applied research project developed my understanding of how to co-develop research and the thesis brought everything together as I endeavoured to balance worldviews and create a meaningful co-develop research product. Having a background in engineering, the GENI program was exactly what I was looking for, since I wanted to develop a new policy skillset that could support my technical background. 

Can you tell a bit more about what it is like to be a student at the GENI program?

Like all experiences, the outcome is usually very dependent on the people you share it with. The cohorts I interacted with during my GENI experience, were all fantastic and the main reason I was successful in completing the program was because of my classmates. Working full time and studying part time does create quite a bit of chaos. Luckily for me, the GENI program understood this and the faculty was there to support me as I attempted to balance both school and work. 

What are your plans for the future? 

After experiencing post-secondary academia via the GENI program, I am excited to take the learnings I gathered during the program back to the work I do here in Yukon. Developing a multidisciplinary skill set in the circumpolar region has allowed for great opportunities in both my social and professional life. With no intention to leave the circumpolar region, my future looks like a fun mix of northern adventures as I continue to learn in the professional realm that intersects environmental and Indigenous governance. 

 (How) has GENI enhanced your career?

The GENI program has given me the opportunity to learn from my neighbours who allow me to enjoy life in their Traditional Territory. Throughout my applied research project and thesis, I was incredibly fortunate to learn from the Carcross/Tagish First Nation. Their teachings enabled me to meaningfully understand a worldview that was different from what my previous western education promoted. I see this as an enhancement to my life in Yukon more so than my career but as a result, I also notice a positive change to how I approach my day to day work priorities. 

Last changed: 24.01.2024 18.44

Photo taken on the Traditional Territory of the Kluane First Nation and the Asserted Traditional Territory of White River First Nation.