2012 Finalists

Nine teams were shortlisted for the 2012 Arctic Inspiration Prize for their knowledge to action plans which addressed a broad range of northern issues from education, literacy and mental health to ecosystem stability and environmental change.


The rapid and complex changes occurring in the Arctic create challenges for policy making in Canada. The CROW team recognizes that a sustainable and affordable observational strategy for ecosystem changes is required that allows for the rapid transfer of new Arctic knowledge into policy. By combining the knowledge of experienced northern researchers in the natural sciences with the deep knowledge of the land and on-ice skills of members of the Canadian Rangers, the CROW team proposes to measure key parameters that relate to changes in the Arctic including: ocean warming and freshening, reduction in ice and snow cover, altered nutrients and productivity, and ocean acidification. Their plan provides a unique opportunity to monitor ocean change along a network that will eventually span the Canadian Northwest Passage.

Team Leader: Bill Williams / Nominator: David J. Scott, Executive Director, Canadian Polar Commission


With roughly 75% of Inuit children not completing high school, education is of critical concern throughout Inuit Nunangat. Through extensive consultations and information gathering across the four Inuit regions of Canada, the National Strategy on Inuit Education was released to encourage Inuit to discuss a new vision for the future of northern education. The team seeks to close existing gaps in Inuit education and to improve achievement rates by tackling the 10 recommendations set forth in the National Strategy which focus on four priority areas: supporting children to stay in school, increasing the availability of Inuit-centered curriculum, building capacity and gathering and using research to inform decisions.

Team Leader: Mary Simon / Nominator: Roberta Jamieson, President & Chief Executive Officer, Indspire


The Mackenzie River Basin (MRB) is a unique and globally significant ecosystem and critical to the health of Northerners and the global population in general. Indigenous and scientific knowledge both indicate significant changes are occurring within the basin that threaten its stability. The Forum for Leadership on Water proposes to undertake a project to consolidate and reframe the scientific and traditional knowledge on the MRB, connect this knowledge to policy-making and empower northern communities to make informed decisions for future adaptation. Through planning sessions, science forums, knowledge to action workshops and communications initiatives, the team aims to build northern capacity for better water protection.

Team Leader: Robert Sandford / Nominator: J. Michael Miltenberger, Minister of Finance and Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories


Changes in the North extend across social, political, ecological and economic boundaries, however the collective understanding of these changes remains limited with significant barriers still existing between northern and southern stakeholders. Building on the success of the Arctic Connections Southern Expedition, Ikaarvik seeks to connect knowledge producers and knowledge users in ways that lead to meaningful action. By matching northern communities with research groups and zoos and aquariums from the south, the team proposes to extend their initiative to a national scale in order to meaningfully address the major issues facing the North.

Team Leader: Eric Solomon / Nominator: David J. Scott, Executive Director, Canadian Polar Commission


The preservation of culture and heritage has been recognized as a key component in the wellbeing of Inuit. As their knowledge systems and core beliefs are typically grounded in nature and the culture of their ancestors, the erosion of their environment and replacement of traditional practices have had a profoundly negative effect. An experienced team of Inuit Elders, facilitators and academics are proposing to help preserve Inuit culture and heritage through the provision of a definitive body of work, a book entitled, Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit - What Inuit have always known to be true, that communicates the Inuit worldview in detail and which will serve as a resource for academics, researchers, educators and the next generation of Inuit.

Team Leader: Shirley Tagalik / Nominator: Dr. Frank Tester, Professor of Social Work, University of British Columbia


Many northern aboriginal communities suffer from severe intergenerational trauma and addiction problems which are not easily solved by standard treatment programs. The katsungaittut – Inspiring Minds team, made up of a group of Labrador Inuit and experienced psychologists, recognizes the need for a passage to healing and health that brings individuals together to share, understand and learn from common experiences. By engaging individuals, families and communities in a series of workshops on intergenerational trauma and addictions, the team aims to help community members identify the sources of their problems and to address these problems through methods that promote healing and recovery.

Team Leader: Michelle Kinney / Nominator: Carol Brice-Bennett, Regional Director of Aboriginal Health Programs & Research, Labrador-Grenfell Health Authority


The importance of country food as a critical resource for the health and well-being of northern populations is well documented. Country foods are key components of physical, mental, social and economic health of individuals and communities across the Arctic. The Arctic Food Network is proposing a food-gathering system that enables communities to strengthen traditions of hunting and sharing. Comprised of a variety of cabins, sheds and supporting infrastructure that merge architecture, landscape, cold climate technology and Inuit culture, the network will lead to the acquisition, storage, preparation, distribution, and celebration of country food, and other locally-sourced food.

Team Leader: Mason White / Nominator: Mary Ellen Thomas, Senior Researcher, Nunavut Research Institute


The social and economic costs of low literacy are monumental, impacting the wellbeing of families and communities, health and food security, personal and cultural identity and, economic development and productivity. In Nunavut, low literacy in youth results in nearly half of the working-age population struggling with serious challenges with many Nunavummiut lacking the literacy skills needed to thrive in today’s society. The Nunavut Literacy Council proposes to embed literacy into high-quality, culturally-based programming for the benefit of individuals, families, and communities across the North.

Team Leader: Kim Crockatt / Nominator: Mary Ellen Thomas, Senior Researcher, Nunavut Research Institute


For over 40 years, a small Chipewyan community of just over 300 people located approximately 200 km east of Yellowknife on the south shore of Great Slave Lake, the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation, has been advancing an initiative to protect an area of their homeland of over 30,000 km2 called Thaidene Nene, the 'Land of the Ancestors'. The Thaidene Nene Initiative aims to promote the responsibility and capacity of aboriginal peoples to use their own ways of knowing and doing, in meaningful partnership with the rest of Canada, towards the stewardship, protection and co-management of the proposed national park reserve in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

Team Leader: Dora Enzoe, Nominator: Tom Beaulieu, MLA, Tu Nedhe