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Ground-breaking projects receive AIP prizes

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Eight innovative teams from across the Canadian North were awarded a share of more than $2.6 million for their ground-breaking projects at the Arctic Inspiration Prize (AIP) Awards celebration February 5, 2020.

Northern Compass receives the top $1 Million prize: Karen Aglukark, Rebecca Bisson, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, Aluki Kotierk, Jim Snider, Lois Philipp, Paulie Chinna, and Premier Joe Savikataaq.

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. The monies will help the program provide youth with trained coaches, accessible and relevant resources, on-campus programming, and a network of role models and volunteers.

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. Winners were:

Dehcho: River Journeys: Senator Margaret Dawn Anderson, Sharon Snowshoe, Vera Houle, Martina Norwegian, and Leela Gilday.

Dehcho: River Journeys was recognized 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.

vmπ5 Kamajiit Program: Front row: Stanley Anablak, the Hon. Dan Vandal, Susan Aglukark, Andrew Gentile, Tanya Tugak, Mallory Okatsiak, Michelle Malla, and Hovak Johnston. Back row: Victor Tootoo, Ulrike Komaksiutiksak, Mikka Komaksiutiksak, Jeese Tungilik, and Elizabeth Gordon.

The 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. The 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. Youth will also have access to mentors and local job opportunities.

Nunavut Law: Jessica Shabtai, Stephen Mansell, Lorraine Thomans, Aaju Peter, Martin Phillipson, Nuka Olsen Hakongek, Hannah Uniuqsaraq, Cody Dean, and PJ Akeeagok.

The Nunavut Law Program (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, in mooting, student support and bursaries, traditional law and cultural activities. Students will graduate with a Juris Doctor degree and will be equipped with the unique knowledge and skills needed to practice law in Nunavut.

Resilience Training and Healing Program: Front row: The Hon. Mélanie Joly, Chad Thomas, Michelle Kolla, Premier Sandy Silver, Ben Asquith, Jordan Profit, Nathan Smith, and Brandon Smith. Back row: Colin Asselstine, Nelson Lepine, and Wayne Risby.

The Resilience Training and Healing Program (RTHP) will respond to challenges with mental illness, addiction and suicide among youth and wildland firefighters. RTHP will employ a holistic approach to wellness tailored to each partici­pant, will address trauma through traditional practices and knowledge, land-based healing, and mentorship, and will include a financial literacy component.

In the Youth category, three prizes were awarded, worth up to $100,000 each.

Baffin Youth Outdoor Education Project: Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, Leetia Eegeesiak, Brittany Masson, Aasta Idlout, Annie Cyr-Parent, and Jovan Simic.

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.

Trades of Tradition: Nathan Manipik, Ben Sharpe, Sal Paungrat, Renee Okalik, Cherylu Piugattuk, and Sarah Leo.

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.

Yukon Youth Healthcare Summit: Anna Billowits and Geri-Lee Buyck.

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.

The Arctic Inspiration Prize awards ceremony was held in conjunction with the Northern Lights Business and Cultural Showcase at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, with perfor­mances by some of the North’s most talented artists, performing under the direction of the NWT’s Juno award winner Leela Gilday; and included Deantha Edmunds, Inuk classical soloist; the guitar-fiddle duo of Yukoners Boyd Benjamin and Kevin Barr; Nunavik’s Sylvia Cloutier; Dene Orator Lawrence Nayally; and Arctic Soul icons, Josh Q and The Trade-Offs.