As we wind down the school year, Northern youth are preparing for the summer and reaping the rewards of hard work the rest of the year.
In Gjoa Haven, youth from Cambridge Bay took home not only the youth title from the Square Dance Showdown, but also the overall prize. Oh, and $10,000.
In the NWT, artist Kablusiak (Jade Nasogaluak Carpenter) is the first Inuvialuk long-listed for the prestigious Sobey Art Award worth $100,000. Like 2006 winner Annie Pootoogook, Kablusiak makes art that highlights everyday life, in Kablusiak’s case to address cultural displacement.
Meanwhile, fellow Inuvialuk Tyra Cockney-Goose earned a $25,000 scholarship after submitting a video application to the STEAM Horizon Awards. Just last year, she won bronze at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Ottawa, and was invited back to the nation’s capital for the Prime Minister’s Science Fair.
Here in Nunavut, four young women from Iqaluit are now preparing their own trip to Ottawa for the Canada-Wide Science Fair after taking the top three spots at the first Qikiqtaaluk Science Fair in 18 years. They need your help getting there, with costs estimated at $10,000.
These same youth are the target of a scholarship from a corporate citizen new to Nunavut, diamond giant De Beers, which is offering nine scholarships worth $4,800 US each for women entering a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) program at a Canadian post-secondary institution. Preference is given to Indigenous women from the North.
And let’s not forget the young people from Cambridge Bay who won $100,000 from the Arctic Inspiration Prize for taking scrap metal and turning it into art.
The point is, there are opportunities for Nunavut’s youth to achieve and be rewarded for their hard work.
On the flip side, many of the youth we don’t hear about are not achieving because we adults too often fail to provide the opportunities they need.
The repeated refrain from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. is that the Government of Nunavut is failing Nunavut’s youth by not providing a bilingual education. This appears at this moment to be close to a lost cause. The government is barely able to provide the tools to get our youth to graduation, let alone graduation in the Inuit language.
The federal government, too, fails by lacking the bravery to make the investments required to put an end to the housing crisis and the food insecurity too many youth – and their families – face every day.
But we as regular citizens have many opportunities to step up more than we do. We hear regular reports of youth programs at risk as adult leaders and coaches leave town or move on to a different activity.
It takes a community to get youth to dance competitions and out-of-town sporting events, and frankly, even to get them to university.
It may be easy – and effective – for adults to offer the money to make these things possible.
But lately, it seems, Nunavut’s youth need adults just as much to offer their time over the long haul to help as educators, coaches, travelling companions and advocates.
Ask how you can help.

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