The Western Arctic Youth Collective will be expanding its events and programming thanks to the Arctic Inspiration Prize (AIP).
On Feb. 17, the collective was awarded $97,000 in the youth category of the prize.
“It’s just going to really support our programming, our ideas, our dreams,” says Jacey Firth-Hagen, the project coordinator.
The Western Arctic Youth Collective was started in 2018 by a group of Inuvialuit and Gwich’in youth from the Beaufort Delta, aiming to provide youth-led programing and support.
Corrine Bullock is the co-chair of the collective’s steering committee.
“I’m still so excited, I feel like I’m just shaking with that energy,” she says with a laugh, “just having people believe in the same vision that you’re putting out there.”
Firth-Hagen gave thanks to various supporters including the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, as well as Elder Gerry Kisoun and Inuvik Mayor Natasha Kulikowski who nominated them for the AIP.
The AIP has become a major funder of important wellness projects in the NWT. This includes the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation who won the grand prize back in 2017 for its on-the-land wellness camp.
Holly Jones is the research and capacity coordinator for the Western Arctic Youth Collective.
“We’ve all seen and benefited from the types of projects that have been supported by AIP. So it’s really cool now to know that we will be able to have that impact on other people,” she says.
Throughout the year, the Western Arctic Youth Collective has been running events, both virtual and in-person. This includes a recent collaboration with the
Arctic Youth Development Agency for an on-the-land trapping camp in Aklavik and a language retreat at Gwich’in Park.
Firth-Hagen says the funding will help the organization run more camping trips, once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
Several more events are coming up, including the Local2Global film screening and information session taking place this week from Tuesday to Thursday at the Midnight Sun Complex in Inuvik.
This is in partnership with the Gwich’in Council International and Arctic Council Sustainable Development Working Group.
The event will discuss mental wellness and community empowerment. More information on this can be found on the Western Arctic Youth Collective Facebook page.
Bullock says there is always talk that youth need to become more involved, but there isn’t a lot of action. She says she’s proud her organization is doing just that.
“It’s like magic when you see a bunch of youth coming together on issues that are important to them,” she says. “I just can’t wait to see where it goes.”
The Western Arctic Youth Collective isn’t the only successful NWT organization as Yellowknife based Artspace won $100,000 also for the youth category.
Artspace is using the funding to run regular community events where youth, individuals experiencing homelessness, and professional artists can build relationships.