2019 Finalists

Members of the Arctic Inspiration Prize Regional Selection Committees for Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Inuit Nunangat met in November and selected eleven nominations as finalists for the 2019 Arctic Inspiration Prize. Ranging in scope and focus, each and every project demonstrates the potential to generate lasting impact across Canada’s North. Laureates in all three prize categories will be selected from these high-quality nominations by the National Selection Committee and will be announced on February 5, 2020 at the 8th Annual Arctic Inspiration Prize Awards Ceremony in Ottawa, Ontario.

$1 Million Category

Imaa, Like This: Children and Youth Expressing Themselves Through Music

This program intends to teach music to Inuit children, mentor Inuit youth musicians to become community music leaders, and train Inuit post-secondary students to be Inuit music educators. This self-perpetuating cycle of learning, learning to teach, and teaching, is inspired by the El Sistema program that teaches music for social change. Imaa, Like This would operate as a free, intensive, daily after-school music program, and would offer youth access to culturally relevant music education in a safe and nurturing environment. The classes would also offer Inuit post-graduate students opportunities for a professional practicum in the pedagogy of music education, thereby providing training for future music educators. Expected outcomes would include improved cultural knowledge and pride, as well as strengthened resilience of Inuit children to reach their full potential.

Team Leaders: Naiome Eegeesiak, Darlene Nuqingaq

Nominator: Adam Arreak Lightstone, Member, Legislative Assembly of Nunavut

Northern Compass

Northern Compass aims 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 would include trained coaches, accessible and relevant resources, on-campus programming, and a network of role models and volunteers. The project proposes to serve youth between the ages of 15 and 25, living in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

Team Leaders: Karen Aglukark, Student, University of Ottawa; Rebecca Bisson, Executive Director, Northern Youth Abroad; Lois Philipp, Founder, Northern Loco; Jim Snider, Vice Principal, Elijah Smith Elementary School

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

AIP Category (Up to $500,000)

Dehcho: River Journeys

Traveling on the MacKenzie River, from the Dehcho to the Delta, this project aims to 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 would 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 would 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 would 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.

Team Leaders: Sharon Snowshoe, Director, Department of Cultural Heritage of the Gwich’in Tribal Council

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

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 would 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 would teach self-expression, exploration and pride through creative activities. Youth would also have access to mentors and local job opportunities.

Team Leader: Susan Aglukark, Writer, Developer, and Founder, Arctic Rose Foundation

Nominator: Michael Gordon, Director General, Kativik Regional Government

Listening to the Grandfathers and Grandmothers:
Northern Indigenous Land Guardians Learning and Leading in Mountain Research or Mountain Guardian Research Training (MGRT)

In many Indigenous cultures, mountains are understood as our grandfathers and grandmothers. These important landscapes are essential to the environmental, economic, social, spiritual, and cultural well-being of many of the North’s Indigenous People. The MGRT project proposes to train youth (18-30 years old) to design and deliver community-based, Indigenous-led research projects, and engage in partnerships using Western knowledge. As Guardians and as researchers, they will develop stewardship skills to understand and care for the lands and waters within their traditional territories.

Team Leader: Norma Kassi, Co-Research Director, Canadian Mountain Network

Nominator: Grace Southwick, Executive Director, Kluane First Nation

Nunavut Law Program

The Nunavut Law Program (NLP) aims to provide a Nunavut-based legal education to Nunavummiut. The proposed project would 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 would graduate with a JD (juris doctor) degree, and would 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.

Team Leaders: Stephen Mansell, Director, NLP; Aaju Peter, Cultural Advisor and Lecturer, NLP

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

Resilience Training and Healing Program

This project aims to respond to challenges with mental illness, addiction and suicide among youth and wildland firefighters. RTHP would 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 would 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.

Team Leaders: Chad Thomas, Yukon First Nations Wildfire

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

Youth Category (Up to $100,000)

Baffin Youth Outdoor Education Project

The Baffin Youth Outdoor Education (BYOE) project aims to 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 would include improved mental health for youth participants, the transfer of traditional knowledge between elders and youth, and creating economic opportunities for local businesses.

Team Leader: Brittany Masson, BYOE Ambassador

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

Micro-Plastics and Caribou Tracker

With fragile Northern ecosystems under threat, a group of youth plans to use design thinking to reduce micro-plastics in the Arctic Ocean, and invent a better way to track disappearing caribou herds. Through a scientific and learning-based project, students intend to collaborate with local Indigenous communities, Elders, and community partners to define the problems, ideate solutions, develop prototypes, and test them in the field.

Team Leader: Isha Jha, Student, École St. Patrick High School

Nominator: Rebecca Alty, Mayor of Yellowknife

Trades of Tradition

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. This project aims to protect Indigenous culture and foster stronger, healthier communities through its promotion.

Team Leader: Nathan Maniapik, Panniqtuuq Hunting Program Coordinator; Sally Paungrat, Qamani’tuaq Hunting Program Coordinator

Nominator: Rebecca Bisson, Executive Director, Northern Youth Abroad

Yukon Youth Healthcare Summit

The Yukon Youth Healthcare Summit aims to 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 would have team members travelling to Yukon high schools to recruit students. The second phase would bring those youth interested in health care to Whitehorse to participate in the Summit, which would 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.

Team Leader: Geri-Lee Buyck, Mayo, YT

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