One million dollars will help expand mental health capacity across Inuit communities throughout the North as part of the 11th annual Arctic Inspiration Prize’s $2.7 million in awards doled out to seven teams on Feb. 8 in Ottawa.

Featuring performances by Vision Quest, Beatrice Deer and Terry Uyaruk, under the artistic direction of Leela Gilday, the ceremony was broadcast online via social media.

“Tonight, we are here to celebrate Northern creativity and innovation,” said co-host Andrea Brazeau. “We are so happy to be back in Ottawa this year with all of you and with our partners.”

Grand prize winners the Pilimmaksaijuliriniq Project will work to further development of mental health programs based on traditional Inuit wellness teachings. It will achieve this through support of community leaders who are delivering on-the-ground community programming.

Joining them in the celebration is the Lessons from our Elders project, awarded $450,000 to assist high school students locate and identify historical artifacts in 10 communities across the North. Many of these artifacts are only known from stories told by Elders. After a one-year expedition, a virtual exhibit will display what the junior archaeologists discover.

Getting $500,000 to provide ongoing after-care support for those who undergo treatment for addictions and other issues in the Yukon, the Shäwthän Näzhì: Recovery Support Program is a three-year project to build capacity among Indigenous wellness practitioners in the territory. It will also develop an intensive recovery support program.

Aiming to advance Nunavik Inuit self-determination in research projects, communities and organizations have united to create Atanniuvik — a research governance organization. It will use the $500,000 it was awarded to build capacity to ensure the organization is run by and for Inuit.

In Tuktoyaktuk, a Northern Youth Development program will be operated by Northern Games Youth Collaboration Inuvialuit Piuyausiq, assisting young leaders in the community to promote cultural connectedness through mentoring youth, highlight volunteerism and develop Northern Games skills. They were awarded $100,000 as one of the three youth categories.

Porter Creek Secondary School in Whitehorse will be able to construct a traditional camp on its campus with the help of $100,000 from the Arctic Inspiration Prize. N’’tsaÜw Chu’ Kedts’edán Kù Traditional Camp will enable the school and community to engage in cultural programming and build capacity for educators while helping students see themselves and their cultural teachings as valid.

Lastly, the Nunavut Youth Creative Collective is getting $100,000 to develop a social enterprise to increase Inuit representation in various media, ranging from advertising to social media and website design. It would also aim to help employ local talent in these fields to prevent having to relocate south for work.

“We would like to thank Gúnta Business for helping us out with our live stream tonight so that people across the North and the south are able to join us for this evening’s festivities,” said co-host Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory. “A special shout out to all those who are watching from their homes, maybe even my kids or watch parties across the country.”

Canada’s largest annual prize, the Arctic Inspiration Prize is headed by the AIP Charitable Trust — a collection of Indigenous Organizations, governments, philanthropist, industrial partners and others from both the North and South of Canada.

-By Eric Bowling

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