By the North, For the North: What the Arctic Inspiration Prize Means to Me

group of 2019 Laureates

The 2019 AIP Laureates (credit: Justin Tang/AIP)

By Hannah Uniuqsaraq, Chair, AIP Charitable Trust

By the North, For the North. Six little words, but they mean so much. I’ve been involved with the Arctic Inspiration Prize (AIP) for the last 3 years, lending my voice and leadership to the Northern-led Trust that guides the work and future of the AIP. I’ve come to know the prize inside and out, along with the Laureate projects it makes possible and the northern communities it supports.

From project ideas to their evaluation and selection, to the ownership, leadership and development of the prize, everything is in place to live the vision of “By the North, For the North”. I want to show you what that means to me by taking you on a virtual tour of the AIP:

Ideas, Projects and Impacts

Most other funding applications have very strict criteria. In comparison, the AIP is focused on ideas that can help the community. It is a resource that can help you realize your dream of making your community better, by bringing your ideas to life. It provides the opportunity to make the North stronger and better. You are only limited by how you limit yourself.”

Glen Brocklebank, The Qajaq Program – 2017 Laureate

Since its beginning in 2012, the AIP has made 41 Laureate team’s dreams come true and enabled their projects to come to life.

These are all projects led by Northerners that build on our strengths and tackle issues that are the most meaningful to our communities. I’ve seen first-hand the success and impact of these projects in my own territory, like the Baffin Youth Outdoor Education Project and Pirurvik – A Place to Grow.

Pirurvik – A Place to Grow, 2018 AIP Laureate (credit: Alistair Maitland/AIP)

In addition, I have the amazing opportunity to learn from the work of other communities across the North, pursuing their own dreams and seeing their own teams achieve success . And that success reaches far beyond the initial seed-money that comes from the AIP. In fact, due to the acknowledgement, visibility and prestige associated with winning an AIP, Laureates attract additional funds, which support greater sustainability and often increase the size of their projects over time, leading to an annual Laureate impact amount of up to $15 million and growing.

Northern Ownership, Leadership and Inspiration

The Arctic Inspiration Prize isn’t about telling Northerners what to do, this prize is about supporting Northerners who already have solutions.”

Chief Kluane Adamek, Yukon Regional Chief – Assembly of First Nations
Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Teaching and Working Farm, 2018 AIP Laureate (credit: Alistair Maitland/AIP)

I love Chief Adamek’s words. I think they perfectly express the vision of the AIP. The northern-led Trust  takes this to heart. The work we do helps to advance the prize and ensures its sustainability so that many, many more teams can see their solutions put into action.

What’s more, the AIP is all about the North supporting the North. The AIP’s Co-Owners, the northern Indigenous development corporations and governments invest directly into the prize and that money and leadership is the foundation of the AIP, without which the prize could not exist.

Every year the AIP community grows as we welcome new partners and more ambassadors  who help to fund the prize and offer support and mentorship to teams, write nomination letters and of course, celebrate when their teams win.

Finally, it’s the AIP’s northern-led selection process that ensures the winning projects are those that are most needed and relevant for the communities they intend to serve. It’s our local volunteers, the people that know, understand and live in our communities that can decide what’s most important. And that’s why the three regional selection committees are made up entirely of Northerners, most of whom are Indigenous, and living in the communities they represent.

Northern Arts, Culture and Celebration

Our sculpture represents our resilience, our time, our future.”

Kaitak Allukpik, From Scrap to Art – 2018 Laureate

More than anything, to me By the North, For the North means community. And when our community comes together, what do we do? We celebrate! The AIP’s annual Awards Ceremony has matured into an incredible showcase of northern talent, performance and art. A time to come together as a wider community. An occasion to learn from each other and celebrate the finalists and new laureates every year. It’s also a time to demonstrate all that the North can achieve and to reflect on how bright our futures are.

“I’m so happy this evening that so many of the prizes are going to nurture that spark in people. We all need to play that role – whether we are from organizations, whether do it individually, whether we do it as family – we need to create the spaces and environment so we can all become who we were meant to be. Confidently. Unapologetically. So that we can contribute positively to our communities, to our families, to our territories.”

Aluki Kotierk, President, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, during the 2019 AIP Awards Ceremony

I’m so thrilled to have been able to take you on a “tour” of the AIP. To show you what By the North, For the North means to me. Look around, get to know the laureates, their work and the amazing aspects of the prize that come together to make the AIP so special.