A traditional Qulliq Lighting ceremony by Julia Ogina opened the ceremonies. Screenshot courtesy of Arctic Inspiration Prize
A traditional Qulliq Lighting ceremony by Julia Ogina opened the ceremonies. Screenshot courtesy of Arctic Inspiration Prize

Great ideas and hard work were rewarded in droves at the 10th annual Arctic Inspiration Prize awards ceremony March 4.

But when the envelopes were unsealed, it was Ilagiitigut Anngiangijaqatigiinnirq Ilurqusivuttigut to take the coveted $1 million prize out of two potential finalists.

”I’m speechless, I don’t know how to say it,” said team co-leader George Kauki in his victory speech. “I’m very excited for our future.”

“This prize is going to assist in bringing a holistic approach to healing the family,” said team member Wanda Gabriel. “It’s pioneering, it’s new. I’m really excited and proud of the whole team.”

Yukon musicians and past Arctic Inspiration Prize winners Dena Zagi, consisting of ennifer Fröhling and Dennis Shorty, perform during the ceremony. Screenshot courtesy of Arctic Inspiration Prize

Hoping to put together both a new 32-bed facility in the Nunavik region and bringing together Elders, addictions counsellors, hunters, scholars and community members to address the root causes of addiction through Inuit values and culture, the Ilagiitigut Anngiangijaqatigiinnirq Ilurqusivuttigut will support families dealing with intergenerational trauma.

In addition to the $1 million, seven prizes were given out to initiatives in both adult and youth categories, based upon their ability to address the immediate needs of Northerners and communities. Each adult group was granted $500,000 and both the Indigenous Youth River Guide training program and Treaty Talks were named youth recipients, earning $100,000 to put towards their efforts.

A total of $3,290,000 was awarded tonight.

NWT Comissioner Margaret Thom informs the Happy’s Landing Fish Camp team they have won a $500,000 grant. Screenshot courtesy of Arctic Inspiration Prize

Educating youth, Elders and others in traditional fishing practices, the Happy’s Landing Fish Camp will produce dryfish to be shared among camp attendees, as well as Gwich’in families and Elders in Fort McPherson who are unable to make their own.

“I’m so excited,” said team member Diane Koe. “I can’t wait for winter to be over.”

Aiming to provide people enduring homelessness with mental health counselling and provide referrals for rehabilitation services, social housing programs and potential job opportunities, Hope House will serve the community of the Western Arctic.

“We’ve always had a passion,” said team member Susan Peffer. “We want our people to have a good life. That is our dream, to have people to have a place to come in and share food and resources. I’m so happy.”

Team members of the Hope House project respond to news they’ve been awarded $500,000 through the Arctic Inspiration Prize, as informed by Inuvik-Twin Lakes Lesa Semmler. Screenshot courtesy of Arctic Inspiration Prize

With the goal of empowering First Nations in the Yukon with the ability to address the root causes of intergenerational trauma, the Indigenous Community Safety Partnership Program hopes to enable First Nation governments to implement, purchase and sustain their own community safety, justice initiatives and emergency preparedness through a first-of-its-kind Indigenous-led mentorship program to train and certify qualified emergency staff.

Inuit throat singers Piqsiq, consisting of Kayley Inuksuk Mackay and Tiffany Kuliktana Ayalik, sing a song during the ceremonies. Screenshot courtesy of Arctic Inspiration Prize

Aiming to provide a training program to provide resources and tools for on-the-land programmers to be able to better mitigate and respond to mental health challenges while in remote environments, the Support Wellbeing project hopes to expand land-based education in the Northwest Territories.

With climate change looming down, the Tuktoyaktuk Community Climate Resiliency Project plans to help the community work through the difficult decisions that will need to be made in the future, including potential relocation. The project aims to ensure locals feel empowered to build community capacity and knowledge of how climate change is affecting the community and help promote resilience for current and future generations.

“I know we applied for this last year,” said Kendyce Cockney, team leader. “I’m very happy, I’m mostly happy for the youth who helped with this project, and I’m happy for the community.”

Inuvialuit Regional Corporation chair Duane Smith informs the Tuktoyaktuk Community Climate Resiliency Project they have been selected to receive $500,000 to put towards helping the community adapt to climate change. Screenshot courtesy of Arctic Inspiration Prize

Aiming to remove barriers and create opportunities to learn on-the-land skills, including canoeing in both white and flat water, whitewater rescue operations and wilderness medicine to help develop a career as an Indigenous wilderness guide, the Indigenous Youth River Guide training program has a goal of improving self-esteem, leadership and self-determination while exposing youth to careers centering on Indigenous languages and knowledge.

Planning to create an on-the-land Treaty Education Camp for youth, Elders and community members, the Treaty Talks program will help improve knowledge of treaty rights in the Beaufort Delta region.

“I’m really excited,” said Marlisa Brown, Treaty Talks team member. “But I know that the road ahead has a lot of work.

“I’m thrilled.”

Members of team Treaty Talks react to learning they’ve won the $100,000 Youth prize, informed by Gwich’in Tribal Council Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik. Screenshot courtesy Arctic Inspration Prize

Broadcast on APTN and CBC during the evening, the Arctic Inspiration Prize is the largest annual prize in Canada. Every year, it highlights the vigilance of nonprofit groups trying to make life better in the North and gives them the finances to complete their work.

As this was the 10th anniversary, past prize winners made appearances throughout the show while emcees Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory of Greenland and Inuvik’s William Greenland kept the show moving. Performances by Dena Zagi, Piqsiq and the Huqqullaqatigiit Drum Dancers dazzled the audience, and a traditional Qulliq Lighting ceremony by Julia Ogina opened the show.

A drummer of the Huqqullaqatigiit Drum Dancers closes the show. Screenshot courtesy of Arctic Inspiration Prize

Eric Bowling

Breaking News Reporter and Digital Editor for NNSL, Eric operates out of Inuvik in the Beaufort Delta. He's four years into his Northern adventure and is eager to learn more about life in the Arctic Circle....

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