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The power of youth
Defining Moments latest in youth-led development in Arviat

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A large group of participants learned to better define themselves and their relationship to their community during a special series of workshops in Arviat this past month.

NNSL photo/graphic

Carmen Braden shows Ethan Tassiuk how to edit sound in Arviat in November of 2012. - photo courtesy of Jamie Bell

Yellowknife musician, artist and facilitator Carmen Braden spent a week in Arviat leading activities and discussions surrounding art and identity.

The workshops were attended by Nunavut Arctic College's (NAC) preemployment and Nunavut Teacher's Education programs, along with 12 classes of students from John Arnalukjuak High School (JAHS).

The project was supported by the Nunavut Research Institute, NAC, JAHS and volunteer youths from the Nanisiniq Arviat History Project and the Arviat Film Society.

The Defining Moments: Canadian Stories project, delivered in Arviat through TakingITGlobal, is a national digital media arts and citizenship project aimed at engaging youth across Canada to explore, express and showcase their diverse perspectives on Canadian identity.

Youths aged 13 to 30 share their experiences of living in Canada through artwork and discussion, and learn to better understand who they are as a nation and how they identify with the community in which they live.

Supported by Canadian Heritage's Youth Take Charge program, the project aims to foster crosscultural participation among youth through regionally coordinated workshops, along with a national art contest and travelling exhibition.

Defining Moments was brought to Arviat with the coordinating help of NAC's Jamie Bell.

The participants took part in a diverse number of activities, including drilling holes in the Hudson Bay sea ice to use underwater microphones to learn how sound travels under water and through ice and what the sounds are like.

Bell said the series of workshops were nothing short of incredible.

He said it was exciting to watch about 100 students learn to define their identity from a local perspective as young Inuit Canadians.

"Those who took part developed skills that will continue to help them express their identity through art, technology, media and film," said Bell.

"The youths involved were just spectacular.

"They came out every night and thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the program.

"We have a really artistic community and a lot of youths are hungry for opportunities to explore art."

Bell said the program incorporated all of the fine arts, as well as numerous forms of technical-skills development.

He said after seeing the impact the program had on Arviat youth, he looks forward to future opportunities being available to the community.

"We've participated in TakingITGlobal events before, through videoconferencing technology, but this was the first time we were able to actually have the organization's presence here in the community.

"It was a great opportunity for us to strengthen the relationship we've developed with them through youth research and our local youth organizations.

"So, we're certainly looking forward to bringing more workshops to Arviat."

Bell said Arviat has a lot of capable youths who are creating opportunities for themselves and the community in general.

He said many of the youths have been asking him every day if Braden will return to Arviat.

"I'm going to write the nicest thank you letters for investing in our youth like this, because it paid off brilliantly.

"In fact, a combined youth group is going to start a community access channel in Arviat, thanks to the support of our local Co-op store.

"The project is being undertaken by members of the Nanisiniq project and the Arviat Film Society.

"Their aim is to try and develop more ways to build media-and-communications training in the community."

Bell said what the Arviat youths are accomplishing is an example of self-reliance and self-determination at its best.

He said Braden coming to Arviat as a volunteer really showed the power and impact volunteering can have on a community.

"These kids are bringing in trainers and educators to support their own community-driven opportunities.

"They all volunteer and I don't mean just two or three, but 10 or 12 showing up at a time.

"They work together using Inuktitut almost exclusively.

"It's a whole world of skills development as an informal program coming from these youths, and it's truly inspiring to see."

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