2019 Laureates

The 8th Annual Arctic Inspiration Prize Awards Ceremony was held in Ottawa, Ontario on February 5, 2020 in conjunction with the Northern Lights Business & Cultural Showcase. A total prize award of over $2.6 million was shared amongst eight teams in three prize categories for their innovative plans to inspire change and improve the lives of people living in Canada's North.

$1 Million Category

Northern Compass

Northern Compass received the grand prize of $1 million to enable Northern youth to successfully transition from high school to post-secondary education (PSE) and on to fulfilling careers through pathways relevant to their cultural context. These pathways will address the central problems preventing success: lack of information, absence of relevant tailored transition supports, no centralized system investing in youth success, and young people lacking the confidence and ability to navigate these foreign systems. Supports will include trained coaches, accessible and relevant resources, on-campus programming, and a network of role models and volunteers. The project will serve youth between the ages of 15 and 25, living in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

Nominator: The Honourable David Joanasie, Minister of Education, Minister of Culture and Heritage, Minister of Languages, Legislative Assembly of Nunavut

Team Members: Karen Aglukark (Co-Team Leader), Rebecca Bisson (Co-Team Leader), Jonathan Holmes, Cecile Lyall, Patricia MacNeil, Giselle M. Marion, Shirley Peterson, Lois Philipp (Co-Team Leader), Rebecca Plotner, Art Sateana, Jim Snider (Co-Team Leader), Bradley Thom, Janelle Wilson

AIP Category (Up to $500,000)

Dehcho: River Journeys

The Dehcho: River Journeys project received $370,000 in the AIP Category. Traveling on the MacKenzie River, from the Dehcho to the Delta, this project will bridge the past and the present, offering a multi-media experience that will explore how the past 100 years have transformed this great northern river. Students will collaborate on two short films, one based on archival materials and the other chronicling a modern-day journey on the river with present-day Elders, who will explain the incremental changes they have seen throughout their lives. An interactive and educational online experience will allow students to view the films and then use their new-found knowledge to resolve real-life environmental issues that plague the Mackenzie watershed today. This project will also feed into an exhibition at the new Fort Simpson Heritage Centre telling the story of the political and environmental journey of the Dene over the 100 years since the signing of Treaty 11.

Nominator: Dr. Frank Tester, Professor, UBC School of Social Work

Team Members: Dr. Gordon Christie, Alison de Pelham, Brian Jaffray, Terry Jaffray, Martina Norwegian, Brenda Parlee, Daniel Séguin, Sharon Snowshoe (Team Leader)

ᑲᒪᔩᑦ (Kamajiit) Program

This project proposes to address the root causes of high school drop-out rates and suicide in three communities in Nunavut through a program youth can access before and after school every day. The program received $450,000 from the Arctic Inspiration Prize and will offer youth access to healthy food, hygiene products, showers and laundry facilities, as well as hands-on creative activities grounded in Inuit culture and language. The art therapy-style sessions will teach self-expression, exploration and pride through creative activities. Youth will also have access to mentors and local job opportunities.

Nominator: Michael Gordon, Director General, Kativik Regional Government

Team Members: Susan Aglukark (Team Leader), Andrew Gentile, Elizabeth Gordon, Hovak Johnston, Mikka Komaksiutiksak, Ulrike Komaksiutiksak, Jesse Tungilik

Nunavut Law Program

The Nunavut Law Program (NLP) aims to provide a Nunavut-based legal education to Nunavummiut. This project received $140,000 to provide graduates with professional learning opportunities and a strong foundation in Inuit traditional law through participation in a circumpolar exchange with the University of Lapland, participation in mooting, student support and bursaries, traditional law and cultural activities. Students of the NLP program graduate with a JD (juris doctor) degree, and will be equipped with the unique knowledge and skills needed to practice law in Nunavut. The program has the potential to significantly increase the number of lawyers in Nunavut.

Nominator: Lorraine Thomas, Vice-President, Imaituk Inc.

Team Members: Robin Anawak, Samantha Barnes, Robert Comeau, Guy D’Argencourt, Marley Dunkers, Angnakuluk Friesen, Heather Heavin, Colin Mackay, Stephen Mansell (Co-Team Leader), Sandra Omik, Aaju Peter (Co-Team Leader), Martin Phillipson, Doug Surtees, Lana Walker, Tracey Wray

Resilience Training and Healing Program

This project will respond to challenges with mental illness, addiction and suicide among youth and wildland firefighters. RTHP will employ a holistic approach to wellness that can be tailored to each participant, and that addresses trauma through traditional practices, land-based healing, and mentorship, based on a foundation of traditional knowledge. The project received $410,000 from the Arctic Inspiration Prize and will include a financial literacy component, ensuring all participants have bank accounts, understand credit and budgeting, and know how to access financial advice. The key output of this project is healthy, educated, and skilled future leaders, who have an understanding of how to access resources when needed.

Nominator: Grand Chief Peter Johnston, Council of Yukon First Nations

Team Members: Shirley Adamson, Ben Asquith, Colin Asselstine, Andrijana Djokic, Angela Drainville, Marge Kormendy, Nelson Lepine, Jordan Profeit, Wayne Risby, Chad Thomas (Team Leader), Lee Vincent

Youth Category (Up to $100,000)

Baffin Youth Outdoor Education Project

The Baffin Youth Outdoor Education Project received $100,000 from the Arctic Inspiration Prize. The project will foster personal growth, skills development and social and cultural awareness by teaching youth traditional activities and adventures on the land. The initial phase of the project will focus on the skills required for dog sledding. Participants will outfit and complete a 14-day dog sledding expedition from Iqaluit to Kimmirut and back. The long-term vision for the program is to expand to other land-based adventures. Expected outcomes will include improved mental health for youth participants, the transfer of traditional knowledge between elders and youth, and creating economic opportunities for local businesses.

Nominator: Paul Crowley, Vice-President, Arctic, WWF Canada

Team Members: Leetia Eegeesiak, Aasta Idlout, Brittany Masson (Team Leader), Jovan Simic

Trades of Tradition / Inuit Piqqusingni / Dene K'éé Eghalaets'endedá

Cultural activities like hunting, sewing, drum-making and drumming have been largely eroded in the North by colonialism, inter-generational trauma, and residential schools. By providing community members with the opportunity to develop these traditional skills, Trades of Tradition intends to preserve traditional knowledge, build connections between youth and elders, strengthen the cultural identities of participants, and address the root causes of prevalent social issues affecting people in northern communities, including substance abuse and suicide. With $100,000 from the Arctic Inspiration Prize, this project team will help to protect Indigenous culture and foster stronger, healthier communities through its promotion.

Nominator: Rebecca Bisson, Executive Director, Northern Youth Abroad

Team Members: Nathan Maniapik (Co-Team Leader), Renee Okalik, Sal Paungrat (Co-Team Leader), Cherylu Piugattuk, Ben Sharpe

Yukon Youth Healthcare Summit

The Yukon Youth Healthcare Summit was awarded $90,000 from the Arctic Inspiration Prize and will address the need to increase the number of Indigenous Yukoners in post-secondary education – particularly in the field of health care – by exposing them to a variety of health care professions through a series of multi-day summits in partnership with the Whitehorse General Hospital. The initial phase of the project will have team members travelling to Yukon high schools to recruit students. The second phase will bring those youth interested in health care to Whitehorse to participate in the Summit, which will include use of the new Clinical Simulation Centre, the opportunity to obtain Standard First Aid certification, and participation in workshops hosted by healthcare professionals where students learn about paths to a career in healthcare.

Nominator: Shelby Maunder, Executive Director, BYTE: Empowering Youth

Team Members: Anna Billowits, Geri-Lee Buyck (Team Leader)