2017 Finalists

Members of the Arctic Inspiration Prize Regional Selection Committees for Yukon, Northwest Territories and Inuit Nunangat met between 15 and 20 November to review the nominations received for the 2017 competition. Ten nominations were shortlisted for the 2017 Arctic Inspiration Prize for their knowledge to action plans focusing on issues of critical importance in Canada’s North including: community mental health and wellness, food security, literacy, cultural preservation and education. Laureates in all three prize categories are selected from these high-quality shortlisted nominations by the National Selection Committee and will be announced on 31 January 2018 at the 2017 Arctic Inspiration Prize Awards Ceremony.

$1 Million Category

Arctic Indigenous Wellness Project

Indigenous populations, compared to their non-Indigenous peers, are at higher risk for suicide, substance abuse, incarceration, and homelessness – with over 90% of the homeless population in the Northwest Territories being Indigenous. The Arctic Indigenous Wellness Project is an urban land-based healing program targeting Indigenous men and women at risk of suicide and/or incarceration on the streets. Combining Indigenous cultural education with traditional therapeutic interventions in a wilderness urban setting, the project aims to improve the mental health of at-risk Inuit, First Nation and Métis peoples with collaborative, culture-specific, community supported programs.

Team Leader: Dr. Nicole Redvers, ND, Chair of the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation

Nominator: The Honourable Glen Abernethy, Minister of Health and Social Services, Government of the Northwest Territories

From-the-Land Food Ambassadors Program

It is important to share the skills necessary for sustainable domestic vegetable and meat production in the North, together with traditional wild food skills to not only create local food producers who love the land, but teachers who come from within and will create a lasting impact in northern communities. The From-the-Land Food Ambassadors Program aims to connect people in the most isolated parts of the Canadian Arctic and incubate food production trainers who are empowered to restore and improve their community food system by equipping them with the infrastructure, tools, and confidence to be teachers through distance education opportunities and hands-on training at the Farm Campus in Hay River.

Team Leader: Jackoline Milne, President, Northern Farm Training Institute

Nominator: R.J. Simpson, MLA for Hay River North, Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories

AIP Category (Up to $500,000)

Inuinnait Ingilraatuqanit Ayuiqharvik – Inuinnait Cultural School

Although much knowledge of Inuinnait heritage has been recorded and generated, very little of that knowledge has been made available to Inuinnait youth. Inuinnait Ingilraatuqanit Ayuiqharvik – Inuinnait Cultural School aims to mobilize knowledge derived from past research in the areas of archaeology, ethnography, linguistics and language pedagogy, place names, and traditional knowledge to develop formal courses to be delivered on the land in Bathurst Inlet to Inuinnait students, between 18 and 30 years old. This school would increase students’ knowledge and pride in Inuinnait history and culture, develop their Inuinnaqtun language, traditional knowledge, and archaeological field research skills.

Team Leader: Pamela Gross, Executive Director, Kitikmeot Heritage Society

Nominator: Morley Hanson, Coordinator, Nunavut Sivuniksavut

Our Families, Our Way: The Peacemaking Circle

The last 150 years has seen First Nations experience a violent, oppressive and traumatic colonial history that has eroded the blanket of loving relationships that protected and nurtured children for thousands of years. Residential Schools and child protection laws for more than a century removed children from families and community. By revitalizing the practice of peacemaking circles, this initiative seeks to rebuild the reservoir of social capital needed so that communities can stand together today for their children tomorrow. This project introduces a fundamentally different approach to children and families at risk through a Family Act. This Act, built on traditional values, empowers the community to resume their traditional responsibility for children. By merging the best of old and new ways into an innovative peacemaking circle curriculum, the project’s training of community members and professionals would generate capacity to work collaboratively to secure the best interests of all children.

Team Leader: Lori Duncan, Director, Health and Wellness, Carcross/Tagish First Nation

Nominator: Sherry Campbell, President and CEO, The Gordon Foundation

The Qajaq Program

Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut has a rich qajaqing history, though it has not been mobilized in several generations. The Qajaq Program looks to engage young people in its revitalization by working with local knowledge keepers and elders to learn how to build and paddle their own qajaqs. Through this project, the youth of Chesterfield Inlet would build hand-crafted qajaqs based on the design that was used in the area hundreds of years earlier, and would also create a special qajaq that can be shipped to other communities as a teaching resource to show how qajaq making comes together.

Team Leader: Glen Brocklebank, Director, The Qajaq Program

Nominator: Douglas Aggark, MLA Candidate in the 2017 Nunavut Election, Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet

Unaaq Men’s Association of Inukjuak – Intensive Traditional Program Development

The Unaaq Men’s Association of Inukjuak intends to address many social challenges through the development of sustained, intensive traditional training programs that target youth participants by pairing them with elders and experienced hunters. The project aims to enhance the intergenerational bonds between elders and youth, promoting self-esteem, leadership, and pride, and actively disseminating traditional Inuit knowledge across the Nunavik region and Canada. Ultimately, the team intends to promote Inuit culture among the youth and broader community, to prevent social issues from mounting, and to provide further economic opportunities in line with traditional activities.

Team Leader: Tommy Palliser, Director, Nunavik Marine Regional Wildlife Board

Nominator: Andy Moorhouse, Vice-President, Economic Development, Makivik Corporation

Youth Category (Up to $100,000)

Dene Heroes Publication Project

The Dene Heroes Publication Project seeks to build literacy and leadership skills among Indigenous youth and increase pride in the Dene people. A team of Indigenous youth will lead the annual development and publishing of a collaborative book about Dene heroes that will be distributed to all five communities in the Sahtu. The book aims to inspire Indigenous students, community members, and out-of-school youth to write about someone they admire of Dene descent with contributors interviewing elders, talking about heroic qualities, writing about their heroes, taking photographs, drawing pictures, and reading what others have written. Partnering with schools, community members can contribute their ideas, stories and pictures to be published in the book that would be distributed to all contributors at a celebration in each community.

Team Leader: Dakota Orlias, Colville Lake, NT

Nominator: Daniel McNeely, MLA Sahtu, Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories

North in Focus: Nunavut, Our Land, Our People

Through the integration of prior experiences in mental health programming, the North in Focus: Nunavut, Our Land, Our People team proposes to create new community member connections, research mental health resource needs and materials, and initiate collaborations with youth centres and schools. This work will support the development of an effective toolkit for mental health awareness in Nunavut that will see local youth, adults, and leaders involved in its development. Using the resources provided by the Arctic Inspiration Prize, this team intends to build its capacity to prepare a larger nomination in a future prize year.

Team Leader: Ashley Cummings, Northern Consultant, Alumni-Ambassador Coordinator

Nominator: Duncan W. Phillips, Vice-President, Strategic Enterprises, Mitacs

Rankin Rock Hockey Camp

Rankin Rock Hockey Camp is proposing to develop youth leadership capacity in communities by giving youth a hands-on experiential learning opportunity as coaches and leaders of a hockey camp. This program would foster the development of young role models and mentorship and promote healthy, active lifestyles and decision-making. Not only would camp participants build their foundational skills for the upcoming hockey season, but they would – along with youth leaders, coaches and instructors – develop skills, knowledge and attitudes that support skill development, goal-setting, personal wellness, and self-confidence.

Team Leader: David Clark, Recreation Director, Hamlet of Rankin Inlet

Nominator: David Ningeonan, President & Gabe Karlik, Executive Director, Kivalliq Inuit Association

Rivers to Ridges

Research continues to highlight the benefits of children spending significant time building a relationship with the land. Rivers to Ridges intends to open a forest school – a land-based education initiative – in Whitehorse, Yukon with an initial focus on preschool programming. With the intention of fostering a deeper sense of empathy, awareness, and community, this initiative would provide children with access to inquiry-based learning opportunities in outdoor spaces. The school intends to integrate First Nations knowledge and teachings through Elder involvement, and to work to break down traditional barriers of accessibility for staff and participants. Rivers to Ridges also plans to build capacity for outdoor learning opportunities for children across the Territory through educator training and mentorship. The school would empower a diverse range of Northerners to spend more time connecting meaningfully with the land.

Team Leader: Erin Nicolardi & Emily Payne, Directors, Rivers to Ridges

Nominator: Remy Rodden, Manager, Environmental Education and Youth Programs, Department of Environment, Government of Yukon