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Youth leaders share experience after winning $100,000 to fund project

Seven teams from across Canada’s North were awarded a share of over $2.7 million for their inspiring “by the North and for the North” projects.
The winning team with their mentor Robynn Pavia. From left, Mac Pavia, Saaki Nuna, Alassua Hanson and Robynn Pavia. Photo Courtesy of Mac Pavia

Seven teams from across Canada’s North were awarded a share of over $2.7 million for their inspiring “by the North and for the North” projects.

One of the recipients is the Nunavut Youth Creative Collective, which was awarded $100,000 to develop their agency, which works as a social enterprise to increase Inuit representation in advertising, media and other digital forms like social media and website design.

“The idea to create NYCC came to me when I was doing my co-op in my final year of graphic design school. I had noticed that there was a lack of quality imagery and graphics that represented Inuit that I could access. Our idea is to curate a database of quality imagery and graphics that really represents Inuit and Northerners,” said Mac Pavia, team leader.

The NYCC board consists of three people: Pavia, Saaki Nuna and Alassua Hanson as well as an advisor/mentor to help ensure the success of this project.

The collective would also look to the communities to hire creative talent among youth community members that cannot find meaningful work in their chosen field without having to leave their homes.

“We are at the stage where we need to lay the foundation of NYCC. That is building business plans and working as a team to best figure out the way we can approach getting these images and graphics in a fair and respectful manner,” said Pavia.

It’s been months of waiting since they filed their application in Oct. 2022, but Pavia said the buildup to the ceremony was worth it.

“The air was absolutely electric. It was so awesome to see so many northerners who are passionate about a difference in the arctic and to see many youth involved in that too,” said Pavia. “If I had to pick one highlight I think it was my team and I walking across the stage. The feeling is indescribable being in front of so many people and having premier P.J. Akeeagok and Harry Flaherty hand my team the check for $100,000.”

“When the territories or provincial or federal government puts out a program, it is in a box; there are parameters. This program (the Arctic Inspiration Prize) allows the community to bring forward their ideas, what is truly important to them at the community level and see through with their project as they see fit,” said Wally Schumann, chair of the Arctic Inspiration Prize Charitable Trust.

The main prize of a million dollars was awarded to Pilimmaksaijuliriniq Project, whose goal is to build additional mental health competencies and Inuit wellness traditional teachings to support the delivery of community-based programming across Inuit Nunangat. “This project will support community organizers, champions, activists and trainers who deliver community-based programming with the goals of fostering, protecting and building the resilience of all community members,” stated the Feb. 8 release from the Arctic Inspiration Prize.

Lessons from our Elders won $450,000 for their initiative to engage high school students in identifying historic artifacts cited in stories told by community Elders. Over a one-year period, this project will take place in ten different communities to produce a virtual exhibition presenting newly found artifacts and stories most northerners have never heard.

Shäwthän Näzhì: Recovery Support Program was awarded $500,000 to provide intensive and on-going after care support following attendance at treatment programs. This three-year project will include capacity building within the Yukon Indigenous wellness practitioner community, an intensive recovery support program and model sharing combined with train the trainer implementation.

Nunavik organizations and communities have united to create a new research governance organization, named Atanniuvik, which will advance Nunavik Inuit self-determination in research. This project won $500,000 to focus on building the human capacity at the heart of Atanniuvik’s operations, including ensuring that Atanniuvik is run by and for Inuit.

In the Youth category, three projects demonstrated a commitment to making a difference in their communities. N’’tsaÜw Chu’ Kedts’edán Kù Traditional Camp was awarded $100,000 to build a traditional camp on the Porter Creek Secondary School campus, helping the school and the greater community to engage in authentic cultural programming. The camp will build capacity in educators and help students see themselves and their cultural teachings as valued.

While preparing for a large Circumpolar Northern Games event in Inuvik, and in light of mental health and spiritual crisis in many northern communities, Northern Games Youth Collaboration, Inuvialuit Piuyausiq, won $100,000 to hold a Northern Youth Development program in Tuktoyaktuk, helping the next generation of leaders promoting healthy activity and cultural connectedness by focusing on mentoring youth and highlighting volunteerism.

The Arctic Inspiration Prize wasy founded by Arnold Witzig and his wife in April 2012 when he saw a need for investment to support communities and their initiatives. He and his wife donated $50-60 millions in trusts and formed the Arctic Inspiration Prize. The trust now comprises the original donation along with fundings from around 30 different organizations and corporations right across Canada’s Arctic, said Shumann.

The Nunavut Youth Creative Collective receiving their award at the AIP 2023. From left to right: Alassua Hanson, Mac Pavia, Premier P.J. Akeeagok, Harry Flaherty, Andrea Brazeau and Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory. Photo courtesy of Mac Pavia.
The team behind the award winning project presented by the Nunavut Youth Creative Collective. From left to right: Saaki Nuna, Mac Pavia and Alassua Hanson. Photo courtesy of Mac Pavia.