Jesslene Jawanda was raised in the highlands of Unama’ki in Mi’kma’ki (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia). They have always been connected to the ocean through scuba diving and kayaking with the long-finned pilot whales and humpbacks of Unama’ki. This connection paved the way for them to complete their Bachelor of Science degree at Dalhousie University in Marine Biology and the Oceans Technology Advanced Diploma Graduate program at Nova Scotia Community College. While in K’jipuktuk (Halifax), Jesslene took part in social and environmental advocacy as a board member and as an employee of various environmental organizations. Their academic research focused on the behavior of climate change gases in the ocean. In 2017, Jesslene was invited to participate on the Canada C3 Expedition which allowed them to transit between Iqaluit and Qikiqtarjuaq Nunavut on the Polar Prince, an ice-breaker vessel. Shortly after this program, they accepted a position in Iqaluit, Nunavut, conducting Arctic fisheries research for Qikiqtaaluk Corporation (QC). In this role, they lead fisheries development projects and work aboard the QC research vessel in various Nunavut coastal communities.