Our North/ Our Future: Talking Security, Sustainability and Change with Northern Youth was a weekend retreat for young people and local mentors in the north held in April 2009, in Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories. Based on the goal of youth-community engagement, it provided an effective way of demonstrating the human security framework as well as GAPS’ commitment to training and capacity building. Participating youth also benefitted from the opportunity to learn about the importance of community involvement.
Along with IPY GAPS, this event was co-sponsored by the Arctic Indigenous Youth Alliance, “Sustainability’s Paradox” – a Health Canada-funded research project, and the IPY Time Capsule Project. GAPS researchers Alana Kronstal, Julia Christensen and project partner Jessica Simpson were involved in organizing the weekend.
Fourteen youth from 5 different communities in the Sahtu and Beaufort-Delta regions of the NWT (Paulatuk, Tuktoyaktuk, Inuvik, Aklavik, and Fort Good Hope) gathered in this space to share their visions for the future of the province and their respective communities. They reflected on these themes and used a diverse range of media, including photography, video, and blogging, to express their ideas and conduct first-hand research, through interviewing local people, in the community of Tuktoyaktuk. As the workshop took place at the same time as the community’s annual spring carnival, the youth had the chance to join the celebration and host a community feast. They were also invited to partake in a special workshop with the Tuktoyaktuk Drummers and Dancers.
The retreat has been met with great satisfaction among organizers and participants. For the majority of participating youth, this was their first time engaging in an IPY activity and so, the workshop has contributed to the growing awareness and impact of IPY among northern youth. The ideas, conversations and activities resulting from this event are captured on a blog, at www.ournorthourfuture.blogspot.com. Thanks to media coverage by CBC North, APTN and News/North, the event has also generated interest on local and national levels. Christensen, Kronstal and Simpson have been requested by other northern communities to hold similar workshops in the future. Furthermore, the project will be included as one of the media literacy projects in the upcoming National Media Literacy Week in November 2009.