Northern projects you should know about: young people lead change

Blog
June 8, 2021
Author(s):
Claire Kroening, University of Alberta human geography alumna and communications professional 

Congress 2021 blog edition 

“Northern Inspirations: A New Generation of Voices for Change” began by showcasing a variety of northern initiatives led by young voices. Here are some highlights: 

The Yukon First Nations Climate Action Fellowship is a coalition of 20 youth that is set to last for 20 months, culminating in a Yukon First Nations Climate Vision and Action Plan, to be released in 2022. The fellowship is empowering youth to tackle climate change through collaboration and learning and sharing of traditional knowledge.  

Alaska Youth for Environmental Action Program is a program developed to bring together adult mentors and youth. The youth engagement strategy serves to support young Alaskans as they run environmental stewardship events like the successful “Stand Up for Alaska.” 

#SpeakGwichinToMe is a social media movement empowering people to reclaim and embrace their ancestral languages. It was started by Jacey Firth-Hagen, a young Indigenous woman whose language, Gwich'in, is spoken by under 300 people, most of whom are elderly. She says learning her language gave her confidence and purpose in starting her language revival campaign.  

SmartICE combines traditional Inuit knowledge and modern data science about ice to ensure the safety of Indigenous communities, as climate change has made ice travel more dangerous. SmartICE tools are award-winning and internationally recognized. Currently, 24 northern communities use and operate the technology. Community members, including youth, receive technical training.  

SIKU App  or the Indigenous Knowledge Social Network is a ground-breaking platform made by and for Inuit peoples. It integrates geospatial data and traditional knowledge to support hunting and ice safety.  

Another up-and-coming resource early-career northern researchers should have on their radar: the Circumpolar Student Association at the University of Alberta is leading a group publication that will explore these three themes: 

  1. Challenges of early career researchers may experience while conducting northern research. 
  2. Training or preparation that would benefit early career researchers in the North.  
  3. How to respectfully and ethically engage in research with a reconciliation approach. 

University of Alberta graduate students Fiona Schmiegelow, Lauren Thompson, Anita Lafferty, Jared Gonet, Sidney Horlick and Tina Wasilik concluded with a discussion of their work as it relates to northern studies. What do they find inspiring about the wave of young voices leading change in the north?  

“As a mother, I'm cognizant of my daughter’s voice. Being a changemaker is creating a space for others to follow behind me.” - Anita Lafferty 

“The current voices are really building on the success of the past; it’s inspiring to continue to elevate them. We’re working towards a critical mass of people in the North knowledgeable on self-government issues.” - Jared Gonet 

“As a non-Indigenous researcher, I understand making relationships with communities is critical. That is my number one priority.” - Tina Wasilik 

“You are seeing so much more involvement--people involved in projects and creating projects. The projects are a source of strength in communities. They are building capacity in our communities.” - Sidney Horlick    

Placeholder thumbnail image
Blog

How to develop a powerful and meaningful land acknowledgement

Congress 2021 blog edition Keith King, University of Alberta, opened the Congress 2021 land acknowledgement workshop saying “as inhabitants of the land, it's essential we explore relationships with the original peoples of this land, and to learn with...