Growing up in the remote Town of Inuvik in the Northwest Territories, Joelle Charlie has overcome many obstacles and barriers in her life. She has viewed these challenges as opportunities to become stronger, and channels this strength towards achieving her goals.  Her current objective is improving food sustainability and security in her First Nations community. 

“I really want to promote growing sustainable, organic food that is grown locally,” said Charlie.  “In a lot of these arctic towns, food security is a huge issue that really needs to be addressed.”  

Charlie believes that focusing her efforts on food security and sustainability can help yield positive environmental outcomes for her remote community, that can also be applied to other rural areas, experiencing similar challenges.

“I think producing local food is one thing that we can do to reduce our carbon foot prints,” said Charlie.  “It can also mitigate climate change and the concerns that our residents in rural locations may have over their food supply.”

Charlie hopes to start her own farm one day, on Kaska traditional territory. As a first step, she plans to attend the Tsawwassen First Nation Farm School to learn the necessary skills and expertise. She is particularly interested in learning about how to develop sustainability practices, while promoting biodiversity on her farm.

“I am really interested in learning as much as I can from this program,” said Charlie.  “I love how Indigenous knowledge is integrated into the programming that Tsawwassen First Nation Farm School offers.” 

Charlie has recently been awarded a $1,500 RBC Future Launch Scholarship to help with her schooling expenses. The RBC scholarship program is open to Canadians between the ages of 15 and 29, and unlike most scholarship programs, this scholarship is for youth who are not yet enrolled in school, or those who attend part-time.  She has decided to defer her scholarship a year, and will begin her program next year.  

“I have always recognized the value of education,” shared Charlie.  “I did not expect to pursue an education in agriculture, but that is where I feel my path leading me, and I view building this farm as a stepping stone for myself.  I will also be able to invest my time and effort into helping my nation become a more vibrant, healthy, and self-sustaining community.”

Charlie is one of over 500 recipients who will be awarded a $1,500 RBC Future Launch scholarship in 2021. The recipients are selected based on their drive, excitement for lifelong learning, and on their plans that how the funds will generate a new future in a burgeoning career. 

Now open for applications until May 5th, 2021, visit rbc.com/flscholarship to apply.

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