Initiative supports youth-led community service projects
The main values of the Expedition to Community (E2C) program are: to be local, and for youth, by youth.
The Expedition to Community (E2C) initiative is a youth‐led service program that is grounded in, and supported by, community. The focus is on engaging youth aged 15 through 30 as leaders who co‐create unique activities that address the issues, opportunities, and needs of northern communities along with a local community coordinator. Based in communities across Inuit Nunangat, the focus on youth‐led community service projects is the guiding factor, yet the ways that each community approach the support and empowerment of youth look and feel different. “Meeting youth where they are at” is a best practice that has allowed the E2C program to be nimble and approach each situation with the lens of what is best for that community at that time.
Inuvik, NWT — Inaugural climate conference
If you travel to Inuvik in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Tony Devlin has a long-standing experience with empowering youth. He holds a dual role as the Executive Director of the Youth Centre, and that of the Inuvik E2C Coordinator. A father himself, he is no stranger to empowering youth. During his 2019 Students on Ice Expedition, when asked about the impact that these programs are making, Tony shared that “this will turn into a lifelong experience”. Tony’s empowerment of the youth in Inuvik led to an inaugural climate conference that held true to the two main values of the E2C program: it was local, and it was for youth, by youth.
Youth from the nearby community of Tuktoyaktuk also participated and shared their experience of being a youth in the ever-changing climate of the Arctic. Over the three days of the conference youth were able to share, gain perspective, and come together to talk about their views on how climate change is affecting them.
With the culmination of the conference drawing near, the youth created the Declaration of the Beaufort Delta Youth called Our Climate. Our Arctic. The youth focused on what they feel others should know about the rate of climate change in the Canadian Arctic and on how they will commit to the process of working towards their goals. Although they recognized that some of the battles to be fought will still be there for future generations, these youth were undeterred by the challenge.
As a terrific celebration for the movement, the Declaration of the Beaufort Delta Youth was read by MLA Lesa Semmler at the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly gathering on March 12, 2020. This would also end up being the final meeting of the Legislature for a period of months as a result of the increasing presence of the Covid-19 virus in Canada.
With the ever-changing needs of communities, there is still relevance in bringing people together around youth empowerment and climate change. As such, the 2nd edition of the Climate Conference is being planned for March 2021. The ability to adapt programming to a socially distanced gathering is not going to affect the fact that youth voices on climate change need to be heard, now more than ever. Stay tuned for climate conference news coming out of Inuvik in the early spring!
Kugluktuk, Nunavut — Shoreline wellness day
Miranda Atatahak based out of Kugluktuk, Nunavut, brings a sense of community to her projects by focusing on ways that her community can come together to support and encourage one another. As the Career Development Officer with the Government of Nunavut. connecting the people of her community and nearby communities with one another is an area where she has a great deal of experience and passion.
For the E2C program launch in Kugluktuk, Miranda organized a community Shoreline Clean up day. Miranda said, “the shoreline needs a wellness day,” and the community responded. With her intergenerational shoreline task force of children, youth, and adults the goal of reviving the shoreline along the western side of the community of Kugluktuk, all the way to the start of 4 Mile Bay was under way on August 12, 2020. While no small task, Miranda was equipped with the support of the Hamlet of Kugluktuk, and primed with a picnic for the participants to use as a celebration at the end of the day.
In a moment of fun, showing that even the most mundane seeming tasks can be enjoyable, Miranda shared fun questions and comments about some of the interesting and odd items that were found along the clean up. A Spongebob sock gained press as the winner for the funniest item category, with the runner up for this category being a single shoe.
Throughout the afternoon event, Miranda continued to motivate volunteers while documenting the amount of garbage collected. In all, the categories of items grew throughout the day with some of the oddest items racking up in number. The team located and successfully disposed of two large boats, four fire extinguishers, and a lot of Styrofoam. The Styrofoam was the daily winner in terms of items that the team removed the most from the shoreline.
By providing an avenue to remove hazards and revitalize the shore, the wellness day was not only a success for the community of Kugluktuk, but Miranda put her pen to action, and documented the steps needed for other communities to undertake just such a project for themselves. Her 7 Easy Steps to Organizing Your Own Shoreline Clean up poster was a hit during the October E2C social media campaign.
If you are passing through Kugluktuk, keep an eye out for Miranda, as she empowers the youth of her community to consider how they can make a difference, even a small one, in the lives of everyone around them.
Makkovik, Nunatsiavut — Youth paint project
Travelling to our eastern most E2C location, is April Rideout in Makkovik, Nunatsiavut. April spends her daytime hours inspiring children at the J.C. Erhardt Memorial School and her after school and weekend hours on creative and inspiring projects that will motivate and guide the youth of her community to be engaged leaders and future thinkers.
April’s focus is on encouraging participants to reach their highest potential, no doubt something that she employs daily in her role at school. After listening to the ideas and goals of youth, April launched Makkovik’s inaugural E2C program in the fall of 2019 – a communal youth paint project that encouraged the youth to reflect on what they like about themselves and their surroundings.
Since then, April has taken strides to maintain the true sense of what the term “community” means to the youth of Makkovik. She is constantly striving to break down barriers to participation, and is currently working on a pandemic response project that will enable a sustainable community based mask initiative to help increase engagement among youth.
April is also currently designing a Community Inspiration Basket Project for the youth of Makkovik to think of what they would like for the “Makkovik of tomorrow”. Her insights and activities will allow youth to look at where they are now, what things motivate them about their community, and how they can make an impact (large or small) on those around them. From fun activities to do as a family both in and outdoors, to reflective art projects, April is setting her sights on the future in big ways and inspiring others to do the same.
While the activities are fun, they also support youth in gaining project development skills, and will guide the important lens of developing local initiatives that are not only meaningful, but also sustainable within their community. Be sure to check out the Community Inspiration basket project that is set to launch early in 2021 in Makkovik.