Madeleine Redfern

Madeleine Redfern
Madeleine Redfern

Category: Presidents' Alumni Awards

Name: Madeleine Redfern

UVic degree and year: Bachelor of Laws, 2005                    

Current hometown: Iqaluit                                   

Birthplace: Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit) 

Madeline Redfern is an Indigenous woman involved in high-tech and innovation. Redfern is active in transformative technologies in telecommunications, transportation and energy. Redfern is COO of CanArctic Inuit Networks Inc., committed to building 3,000 km of marine fibre-optic cable into Canada's Arctic to significantly improve telecommunications in Inuit Nunangat. Her advocacy, professional and governance work shows her dedication and passion towards the development and delivery of programs assisting Indigenous, Inuit, northerners and Canadians that reflect their values, needs and priorities. Redfern is the former mayor of Iqaluit. Following graduation from UVic, she became the first Inuit law clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Q: Many people are not following one career for life. What other work might interest you in the future, even as a hypothetical?                   

MR: I’ve had at least five different distinct careers. Don’t be afraid of change. Change provides the opportunity to grow, learn and develop new skills.  


Q: What is a favourite book you read in the last five years and why?

MR: Honestly, I read so much that I can’t say I have a favourite. I like books that either give me good information on a subject so I can learn and better understand the subject. Or, I like reading the occasional fiction book that is well written and a quick read.  


Q: What is your advice to younger people entering your line of work or who feel lost or confused about their future? 

MR: Do your research so you know your shit. If you over prepare, you’ll be prepared.  


Q: What’s a part of your daily routine that you can’t do without? Do you have a mantra that you can share?

MR: Coffee.

Do the most and the best that you can, and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get it all done—there’s always tomorrow.


Q: The pandemic has come with lessons for many of us. What is something you learned that you will carry forward with you?

MR: Keep going.  


Q: How did UVic, or your faculty specifically, shape you as a person? What is the best advice a mentor has given you? 

MR: I enjoyed Akitsiraq/UVic law school. It was a fantastic experience. I loved learning about law from all the different professors and guest lecturers. I believe the quality education I received enabled me to apply to clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada—which was pretty much a mind-blowing experience, being able to work alongside the most brilliant minds in the legal profession.   

While I don’t practise law, my law degree has been very useful in all my work—from the Qikiqtani Truth Commission, assessing historical policies and laws including their effect, being a politician as mayor of Iqaluit for two terms, acting as chair of the Nunavut Legal Aid program and as a business woman. I do recommend anyone interested in law getting a law degree and remember it’s okay to use your education in different ways—many people do.  

Don’t let the assholes get you down or keep you out.  


Q: If your wellbeing is a chair—what are the four legs that support you? Where do you find strength and motivation?

MR: What are my supports? My husband, my family and my friends. I’m fortunate I have amazing people in my life I can reach out to, whether for advice, or just having someone listen, go out for a good meal, have a nice drink or a walk.

I find strength mostly within myself. I have a strong sense of determination and commitment to do things that can make a difference and do them well.  


Q: What is your favourite memory of being a student at UVic?

MR: I love UVic campus. The grass, the trees, the sense of space. 


Q: What do you hope you and your work will ultimately contribute toward a better future for people and the planet?

MR: Lots of my work has made long-lasting contributions from the development of programs that help people. Among the most important work I am honoured to have been part of is the Qikiqtani Truth Commission Reports. These reports were extremely well researched and written, capturing the shared history of Inuit and Canada during a period of transition. I know this body of work is a legacy that will over time become more appreciated and valued.  The experiences and stories of the Elders are forever recorded. Time will tell if the work I am currently involved in the tech sector from telecommunications, digital economy, energy and transportation will make a difference.  


For the full list of 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients, click here.