Eight innovative teams from across Canada’s North were awarded a share of over $2.6 million for their groundbreaking projects to improve the quality of life in their communities. The prizes were awarded during a celebration held tonight in Ottawa.
Northern Compass, a program to create culturally relevant pathways from high school through post-secondary education and on to fulfilling careers for youth in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, received the top prize of $1 million.
“A strong, prosperous, healthy North relies on creating opportunities for youth to feel prepared, hopeful, and ready for every challenge. It’s time for Northern youth to have equitable access, to feel confident, to feel supported in their choices, and to excel in any pathway they choose,” said Rebecca Bisson, Executive Director for Northern Youth Abroad and one of four leaders for the winning project.
“Northern Compass assembles comprehensive supports designed to increase clarity, access and understanding across every stage of transition from education through to successful careers. These include trained coaches, accessible and relevant resources, on-campus programming, and a network of role models and volunteers. This will result in significant and positive change across all communities in Nunavut and the NWT,” added Lois Philipp, founder of Northern Loco and another leader of Northern Compass. The two other leaders are Karen Aglukark, a student at the University of Ottawa, and Jim Snider, Vice-Principal of Elijah Smith Elementary School.
In addition to the $1 million prize, four prizes were awarded in the AIP category that awards up to $500,000 to each laureate team, and three prizes were awarded in the Youth category, worth up to $100,000 each.
Dehcho: River Journeys was awarded $370,000 for its multi-media project that will explore how the past 100 years have transformed the Mackenzie River from the Dehcho to the Delta. 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. Team Leader: Sharon Snowshoe, Director, Gwich’in Tribal Council.
The ᑲᒪᔩᑦ Kamajiit program will address the root causes of high school drop-out rates and suicide in three communities in Nunavut through programming youth can access before and after school every day. With their prize of $450,000, the Kamajiit program will offer 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. Team Leader: Susan Aglukark, Writer, Developer, and Founder, Arctic Rose Foundation.
The third winner in this category is the Nunavut Law Program (NLP). The project was awarded $140,000 to provide a Nunavut-based legal education to Nunavummiut. The NLP will 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 will graduate with a Juris Doctor degree, and will be equipped with the unique knowledge and skills needed to practice law in Nunavut. Team Leaders: Stephen Mansell, Director, NLP; Aaju Peter, Cultural Advisor and Lecturer, NLP.
The final laureate in the AIP category is the Resilience Training and Healing Program (RTHP). This project was awarded $410,000 to 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 will include a financial literacy component, ensuring all participants understand credit and budgeting, and know how to access financial advice. The key output of this project is healthy, educated, and skilled future leaders. Team Leader: Chad Thomas, Yukon First Nations Wildfire.
In the Youth category, three projects demonstrated their outstanding commitment to making a difference in their communities.
The Baffin Youth Outdoor Education (BYOE) 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 will focus on dog sledding. Team Leader: Brittany Masson, BYOE Ambassador.
By providing community members with the opportunity to develop the traditional skills of hunting, sewing, drum-making and drumming, Trades of Tradition will preserve traditional knowledge, build connections between youth and elders, strengthen the cultural identities of participants, and address the root causes of prevalent social issues in their communities, including substance abuse and suicide. Team Leaders: Nathan Maniapik, Panniqtuuq Hunting Program Coordinator; Sal Paungrat, Qamani’tuaq Hunting Program Coordinator.
The Yukon Youth Healthcare Summit will address the need to increase the representation 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. Team Leader: Geri-Lee Buyck.
“The Arctic Inspiration Prize is the largest prize in Canada, and how wonderful that it’s focus is on the North and what Northerners can achieve. These eight laureates are now well on their way to achieving lasting impact in their communities and beyond.,” said Lucy Kuptana, Chair of the Arctic Inspiration Prize Charitable Trust. “Their projects are outstanding examples of people from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise coming together to use their skills and knowledge to bring about real change and advance the quality of life for Northerners.”
The Arctic Inspiration Prize awards ceremony was held in conjunction with the Northern Lights Business and Cultural Showcase at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa, and featured the wonderfully talented Deantha Edmunds, Inuk classical soloist, as well as musical performances by Boyd Benjamin and Kevin Barr, Sylvia Cloutier, Lawrence Nayally, and Josh Q and The Trade-Offs.
About the Arctic Inspiration Prize
As the largest annual prize in Canada with a focus on the Arctic, the Arctic Inspiration Prize (AIP) encourages, enables and celebrates the inspiring achievements of the people of the North. The AIP recognizes diverse teams and enables their innovative projects in the fields of education, sustainable housing, health, performing arts, traditional knowledge, language, and science. Each year, the AIP awards up to $3 million: one $1 million prize, up to four prizes of up to $500,000 each, and up to seven youth prizes of up to $100,000 each.
The AIP is owned and governed by the northern-led AIP Charitable Trust and supported by Indigenous organizations, governments, industry, philanthropy, and many other partners from the North and South, with management support provided by the Rideau Hall Foundation.