Leaders are important to any community — whether large or small. There are 25 communities in Nunavut where youth play a big role in shaping today, but most importantly, in shaping future leaders. Leadership begins in many ways — whether through overcoming personal challenges and wanting to share that experience to create change, or through compassionate hearts who see a need and choose to fill it in the most positive way possible.

A legacy that pays it forward

Here in Nunavut, the Nunavut Law Foundation Upinnaqtuq Awards, started by Justice Beverley Browne, celebrate young leaders who are making a difference now in their own communities. Justice Browne was a well-known community leader who strove to improve the lives of everyone she came into contact with and who strove to make the judicial system a better fit for the greater community.

Her legacy of leadership lives on in these awards and in the young people who demonstrate that, through positive change and compassion, our communities can be moulded into stronger, better, safer and happier places for everyone.

Positive change comes from many places

Many of these young people have come to leadership through personal traumas or struggles. The Upinnaqtuq Award recipients include youth who have taking their experience and use it as a jumping-off point to create positive change in their own lives and in the lives of others.

The youth who were chosen to receive these prestigious awards are all described in similar ways. The adjectives include compassion, caring, mentor, hardworking, empathetic, reliable, kind, energetic, academic, role model and volunteer.

Some of these young people have endured personal tragedy and have shown remarkable strength in finding their way back from personal hardship, taking on caring for family in a mature and compassionate manner beyond their years and expanding that circle of caring to include peers. Others mentor classmates, demonstrating joy in their role of helping others, making an untold difference.

READ MORE: Overcoming adversity in Canada’s North: Upinnaqtuq Award Honours outstanding youth

Yet other young leaders take on roles such as coaching younger children, or working within their school communities to improve overall personal health and the health of the community as a whole, while others work to solve conflicts within their school communities, dealing with everything that comes into their daily lives.

Each one of these remarkable young people is improving the community now and their efforts will make positive change for the future too, as they grow into adults who know the value of passing on the legacy of positive leadership. We thank you for all that you do and all that you are.

This years’s recipients are:

  • Eekeeluak Avalak from Cambridge Bay
  • Aggiu Dimitruk from Cambridge Bay
  • Qajaaq Ittinuar from Chesterfield Inlet
  • Catherine Gibbons from Arviat
  • James Kolola from Kimmirut
  • Nolan Kuluguqtuq from Pangnirtung
  • Raymonde Lonla Talekang from Iqaluit
  • Jerimah Nuqingaq from Iqaluit
  • Abigail Tunnille from Kinngait
  • Youth from Iqaluit (Inuksuk High School)

To find out more, and see a full list of past winners, click here.

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