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August 26th, 2020

Dene Education Summit Recap

Last month two of our NYA Ambassadors had the chance to participate in a virtual Dene Education Summit. Here’s a recap of the summit and what they learned.

Written by Patti Wedawin and Topsy Banksland

Day 1: Monday, July 27, 2020 

The Dene Nation Education Summit was not what we expected. It was so much more. All of these amazing leaders, influencers, educators have met for 3 days, 3 hours each through Zoom and we had the privilege to be there and listen. In total there was four main speakers and we’d break into smaller groups during the last hour of each session. Each smaller group had another main speaker that had a specific topic to discuss with us. We shared stories, opinions, and bounced ideas back and forth. 

We started every event with introductions from the main speakers and a ceremony; feeding the fire followed by a prayer by Doris Camsell. Joanne introduced one of the main speakers of the day, the Dene National Chief, Chief Norman Yakelaya.  

Chief Yakelaya wants our nation as a whole to find out who we are as Dene in education. Education is the way to go, he says, either in a classroom, on the land, or listening to stories from our grandparents. It’s important to follow through with these types of education while still following our spiritual way of life. Chief Yakelaya wants to create a vision for Dene education. He goes on to explain how COVID has affected some people in good ways and some in bad ways; some got the chance to explore life on the land as our ancestors did, some thought they had nothing to do and just use their time in front of a screen. The moral we took from that was that some people took a step back, opened their eyes, and saw an opportunity rather than a stop on life. 20-30 years ago, Chief Yakelaya read a research paper that was about some indigenous communities and students were thriving in education, culture, and just in general while others were not. He took a three-day course in Arizona that was related to this research paper and was determined to meet the author ever since he came across it, and he had the pleasure to do so just last year.  

Chief Norman Yakelaya then introduced Dr. Stephen Cornell, who joined us from the traditional lands of Apsaalooke Nation (the Crow Tribe) in south-central Montana in the United States.  

Dr. Cornell is an educator and researcher with a PhD and he goes on to talk about the indigenous education that we are still fighting for in Canada. What Dr. Cornell had to offer is a professional career spent working closely with Indigenous nations and organizations in North America and beyond on self-determination, governance, development, and related issues. Dr. Cornell and his colleagues have been extraordinarily fortunate in being able to learn from a diverse group of Native nations over the years, nations that are in the process, as we are, of reclaiming their right to govern themselves and their lands in ways of their own choosing. He wants to share some of what he’s learned in the course of those collaborations.  

Dr. Cornell focuses on two revolutions in the Indigenous world that have been ongoing over the last few decades. They have been emerging and evolving since at least the 1970s, sometimes making progress, sometimes not. The first is a revolution in the field that this summit is about: an education revolution. It’s the reclaiming, by Indigenous peoples, of a prominent place in education for Indigenous knowledge, experience, ideas, culture, history, and aspirations, and the realization of that claim in altered curricula, more Native teachers, Native controlled schools, greater community engagement in education, vastly expanded language learning, and much more.  

Dr. Cornell calls the second one the political revolution. For a long time, Indigenous politics was focused primarily on fighting for recognition and asserting rights: to land, to self-government, to welfare, to the maintenance of traditional cultural practices, and so on. That type of politics, in many ways, centers central governments. Essentially, it is a politics about them, those decision-makers in Ottawa and Washington or in the provinces, territories, and states. It’s about what they do an effort to get them to change. Even in the most politically bitter years of the 1960s and 1970s, Indigenous action in both our countries was highly concerned with changing rights in establishment and government policy. Protest, marches, land occupations, litigation—much of it was about getting them to recognize us and the rights we believe are ours. Dr. Cornell suggests that we stop listening to Ottawa and Washington and start listening to ourselves as a nation. To stop thinking that we are victims and start thinking that we are victors.  

Doris Camsell then ended the summit of the day with a prayer. 

Day 2: Tuesday, July 28, 2020 

On the second day of the summit, Melanie Bennet of the Yukon First Nations gave a keynote presentation titled ‘Yukon’s Story’, highlighting the journey of Yukon First Nation Education. Beginning with the long history of the Federal and provincial governments control of the education curriculum for First Nations of the Yukon.  

After some background information, Bennet then discussed the recent Yukon First Nation gatherings on education and leadership, discussing the proposed options for First Nation control for First Nation education, and the current Yukon First Nation students’ statistics of foundation skills assessments. With the information and data gathered, this paved the way to propose what the YFN wants in terms of autonomy in education.   

One of main points was also the community consultations and what they the common themes the people want for the children in school, such as: education success, language and culture as high priority to their self-governing nations, make sure to have a decolonized system and have it “Our Way”, and the desire to see successful First Nation systems. This is important because todays northern youth have to “learn walk in two worlds” with modern living and still obtaining one’s culture. 

 Bennet then discussed the details of the Framework Agreement process, and then the moving forward with Yukon First Nation Education Directorate, and the plan they currently have in place. 

Bennet’s keynote was an incredible story of how Yukon First Nations are taking initiative of education in their territory, and was an important contribution to the conversation of this summit. This definitely encouraged alliance with the Northwest Territories and Yukon in terms pushing for Indigenous led education, and sparked more aspiration to improve the current education for northern youth. 

Day 3: Wednesday July 29, 2020 

Dr. Crystal Gail Fraser is Gwichyà Gwich’in and originally from Inuvik and Dachan Choo Gę̀hnjik in the Northwest Territories. She was recently appointed as Assistant Professor in the Department of History & Classics and the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta. Her PhD research focused on the history of student experiences at Indian Residential Schools in the Inuvik Region between 1959 and 1996. Crystal’s work makes a strong contribution to how scholars engage with Indigenous research methodologies and theoretical concepts, our understanding of Indigenous histories during the second half of the twentieth century, and how northern Canada was unique in relation to the rest of the settler nation.  

Dr. Fraser started her presentation with some statistics about the summit itself, the future of education, top challenges facing education, and the pre-summit surveys that we participants have completed before each summit. The first pre-summit question was “What best describes your role in education in the NWT?” and in total, there were 18 options to choose from. The top 7 responses, from most to least, were “other, educator, youth, parent, government staff, elder, and chief or regional grand chief.” There were other stats that she conducted from us that were rounded up in her presentation.  

Dr. Fraser then moves on to visions for the future and lists the top 3 highest ranked ideas, which are: 

  • Students in a healthy, safe environment that honours and reflects their community culture in all ways 
  • Every school with high school classes offers courses at all levels using a mixture of technology and face to face delivery 
  • All families participating in the learning environment 

Then she lists the top 3 highest ranked challenges: 

  • Lack of Indigenous Early Childhood Strategy and Framework in some regions 
  • Lack of trades training especially in community schools 
  • Indigenous people lack control over their education 

We break into our mini sessions after this and discussed ideas executed with indigenous identities and cultures as central and foundational.  

Dr. Fraser then speaks about white supremacy and sends us a document written by Peggy McIntosh which we have attached at the end of this post along with their full presentations and CBC articles that have also covered the Dene Nation Summit. 

We are very pleased and honoured to have been a part of this historic event and we thank you for taking the time to read our take on it. Masicho! 

Dr. Cornell’s presentation: https://denendeheducation.ca/images/cornell.pdf 

Melanie Bennet’s presentation: https://denendeheducation.ca/images/mb.pdf 

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate website: https://www.yfned.ca/ 

Dr. Fraser’s presentation: https://denendeheducation.ca/images/cf2.pdf 

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack by Peggy McIntosh: https://uucsj.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/White-Privilege-Unpacking-the-Invisible-Knapsack.pdf 

CBC articles: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/dene-nation-education-summit-1.5671130 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/unwanted-inheritance-overcoming-intergenerational-trauma-1.4892636

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/nwt-education-department-system-federal-audit-1.5454922

August 4th, 2020

All about travel with International Experiences Canada

Last week, our Interns had the chance to talk with Tanya and Nicole from International Experience Canada (IEC). They talked about the kinds of opportunities youth have to travel, learn, and work in Canada and around the world. Here is what our interns had to say (also check out some photos from their own travel experiences!).

“I was very fortunate to be a part of the call we had with IEC. Hearing about the kind of opportunities they offer to youth like me who are eager to learn and travel. My favourite part of the call was having healthy discussions about the importance of development, sustainability, benefits, inclusivity, knowledge, gaining new skills, experiences, building global relationships and connections. I hope to get involved with IEC in the near future”

Lilly Parr, Cape Dorset NU

“During the call with International Experience Canada I was amazed to hear about such a wonderful opportunity. My first thought was, ‘everybody back home should be applying to this.’ I’m thankful to have been a part of the call as it made me remember how much fun I had going to other countries. You not only learn about the other country (day-to-day life, culture, history) you also learn so much about yourself, and who you are in the world. I look forward to hearing more success stories of Northerners travelling outside of their home.”

Jordan Takkiruq, Gjoa Haven NU

“I was honored to be on a call with International Experience Canada, it felt like a next step for me in my travel career. I graduated this year from Algonquin College with a diploma in Tourism and Travel Services. Hearing their stories and the experiences they have given youth was incredible. They learned a lot about different cultures, lifestyles, traditions, and brought it home with them. We got to chat about where we each got to travel to as well, and we pretty much said the same thing about bringing home what we learned. For example, I spent a summer in Costa Rica and brought home sustainability. I try to use it in my everyday life. I hope to experience this myself with IEC or even know future students that will. It’s an experience of a lifetime.”

Patti Wedawin, Gameti NT

“It was nice to hear from International Experience Canada. I know they offer great experiences such as cross-cultural learning, international travel and self-independence. One of my friends took part in this program and I was amazed by the things she had done and accomplished. It has inspired me to take part one day because I’d like to share my culture and also learn about different cultures. I believe that getting out of your comfort zones are ways you grow as a person. It’s important to take a chance.”

Hayley Totalik, Taloyoak NU

“Learning about previous International Experience Canada success stories and how beneficial it can be, especially if you are a young graduate, was encouraging to me. Aspects of independence, learning of other cultures, different ways of living, and international travel were what caught my interest. This presentation highlighted such great points that are relevant to many northern youth. The program is definitely an option for me and made me think about my own next steps. Thank you IEC for sharing this opportunity!”

Topsy Banksland, Ulukhaktok NT

Learn more about IEC, their programs and what they do here!

July 21st, 2020

Weekly Roundup of Opportunities

Week of July 20, 2020

Written by Topsy Banksland

Hello and welcome to our second round of weekly opportunities! 

From scholarships to mentorships and more, be sure to click on the link to see more opportunities that you might be eligible for:  Click here to see list of opportunities

Here are some with deadlines coming up quick: 

AIME | Artists in Residency Positions 

Australian Indigneous Mentorship Experience is calling for artists  for a 3 -month residency. With a $300 payment afterwards, your work will be featured in their new IMAGI-NATION{TV} and IMAGI-NATION{GALLERY} set to be launched at the end of the first residency. 

Deadline is July 31, 2020 for youth aged 12-18.

Skills Canada Nunavut | Exploring Trades |  Arnauvugut: Building our Dreams

For young women in high school or just have just graduated, here is a great opportunity to test and explore the world of trades. Deadline is July 31st, 2020.

Scholarship | NorthwesTel: Northern Futures

Need some Post- Secondary funds? You may be eligible for the Northern Futures Scholarship which provides six students $4,000 in educational funding. Applications due July 31st, 2020 for Northern Students. 

July 14th, 2020

Hayley’s School Bag Project

Written by Hayley Totalik

You can support Hayley’s School Bag Project by donating or spreading the word!

Hello, my name is Hayley Totalik and I’m from Taloyoak, Nunavut. I’m a new high school graduate and I’m currently working with Northern Youth Abroad. I also participated in NYA’s Canadian, Next, International, and Northern Youth in Service programs. NYA is a non-profit organization that offers youth from the north many great opportunities such as travel, work, and volunteer experiences.

I was inspired by a young lady name Tasha Tologanak to start this School Bag Project. She gave children backpacks with school supplies last year to the students in Cambridge Bay and I thought it was a clever idea.

This is important to me because I know that all these remote communities struggle with outrageous costs of transportation and food prices, I see and know that struggle to get something so basic at a reasonable price. I’d like to give back to my community and Gjoa Haven by offering students school bags full of supplies for this upcoming school year. I know that these packages will allow the youth of Netsilik and Quqshuun Ilihaqvik an easier and more efficient school year in this time.

As we grow it can be a struggle to be a leader because many people face challenges that affect their motivation to make a change. On the positive note, it can also be very rewarding to challenge yourself and to have words said like “I did it” and “It happened because of me”. I do it to see all the bright smiles and so that they know anything is possible if you work hard. I didn’t have many role models growing up and thought a lot of things were out of my league because I come from such a small town. I want children to believe that they don’t have limits, and that it’s possible to achieve your dreams.

You can donate to my project Go Fund Me at https://www.gofundme.com/f/school-bag-project, or help me spread the word by sharing this blog!

Thanks for reading

Hayley

July 8th, 2020

What’s going on this week?

Written by Topsy Banksland

Good Day Everyone! 

NYA has started up a “Weekly Summary of Opportunities”  which is all the newest opportunities we’ve come across. With the information easily accessible, this document includes things such as scholarships, events, and youth programs and initiatives of different varieties.

View all of this week’s opportunities by clicking here.

Here are a few right now with deadlines coming up this month.

Northern Youth in Service

Who For?: Youth (groups, individuals or networks) ages 14-25 from NWT, NU, or YT

Applications due: July 15, 2020

Start a project in your community! It can be any project, if you can think of it, we can help make it a reality. Each participant gets at least $500 in funding, and gets on-on-one support to finish the project. Past projects have included hunting groups, youth committees, arts groups, events, sewing projects, projects related to technology, the environment, and leadership!

Visible Vault Digital Stories

Who for?: Inuit Filmmakers and Videographers

Date/deadline:  Submit a video on or before July 17, 2020

The WAG Inuit Art Centre is accepting topic submissions for 3-5 min. Videos that:

•  Feature stories about Inuit art, culture, history, language, and life in the Arctic.

•  Highlight perspectives of Inuit artists, Elders, knowledge keepers, storytellers, youth and community members.

•  Minimum honorarium for each video is $500. Download the application package here and submit it on or before July 17, 2020

The Annual Youth Forum: National Association of Friendship Centres 

Who for?: Indigenous youth ages 14 to 24 from across Canada

Date/deadline: July 24-25, 2020

The Annual Youth Forum (July 24-25, 2020) will be virtual for the first time in 31 years in response to the coronavirus pandemic. L welcomes all, and all indigenous youth ages 14 to 24 from across Canada, to the 31th Annual Virtual Youth Forum, to be held on a secure Zoom platform .. This year’s theme is “Indigenous youth and their minds”. 

More Opportunities

I (Topsy)  will be doing more of the Weekly Summary of Opportunities, so expect more in the next coming weeks! 

If you have any opportunities relevant for northern youth, please feel free to contact me at Topsy@nya.ca 🙂 

July 7th, 2020

An interview with Polar Knowledge Canada

Written by Jordan Takkiruq

Last week I was able to have a chat with Jennifer Sokol, Senior Policy Analyst at Polar Knowledge Canada (POLAR).  We talked about the creation of polar knowledge, job opportunities, and current projects they have been working on. Growing up I have always had an interest in science, participating in numerous science fairs and camps. Currently a Bachelor of Science Student at Mount Allison University, I wanted to learn more about what my options are for when I graduate. Thanks to Northern Youth Abroad’s (NYA) connections they got me in touch with POLAR.

Jordan is currently studying science at Mount Allison University and has been working with NYA this summer. He recently interviewed a Senior Policy Analyst at POLAR to learn more about the organization and the opportunities available for young northerners interested in science.

During our call, Jennifer explained that infrastructure was needed in the north to promote science and research as well as involvement with northern communities.  Ensuring partnerships were developed with Inuit was also noted, and this led to the construction of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) campus, a building that incorporates traditional knowledge with science. POLAR is the organization that was tasked with operating the research station and to build capacity in science in the north. Having headquarters in the north is key to a successful partnership; for the north by the north. 

POLAR offers many government entry level positions in science, policy, admin, and even as technicians. New staff members receive support to learn skills they want to build on. This is accomplished either internally with POLAR, or externally with courses. There are positions for high school students and for post-secondary students and includes internships and co-op opportunities. Students and other staff have gone to conferences across Canada to present their work as well as see other research being done.  

One recent project that POLAR has been working on with the Royal Canadian Geographic Society (RCGS), are floor maps for teachers. They are able to give a northern perspective to maps, having the arctic as the main part of the huge map. POLAR is also a supporter of ACTUA, an organization that brings science camps to northern communities. POLAR is striving to continue to co-develop their new science and technology 5-year framework for 2020-2025 with Indigenous organizations across the arctic. They have already started with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

As an Inuit student who would like to work in the world of science someday, I really enjoyed my call with Jennifer. I am glad to be able to use NYA as a platform to share what I learned from POLAR. I hope to learn and share more opportunities for those interested in science and research. Specifically, about the environment and climate in the north. One day I will be researching climate change, that is my goal.

May 1st, 2020

Update on 2020 Programs

Today we are making the announcement that we will be putting NYA’s core programs (the Canadian Program, International Program and NYA Next) on hold. As you can imagine this decision has been a tough one, but it is also the right one at the moment. We are still offering a number of supports and opportunities and will work tirelessly to get core programs back as soon as possible. 

Our hearts are with you – please know that NYA is here – whether it is to take part in what we can offer, to ask for help, or to reach out to a friendly voice – we remain deeply committed to supporting the youth that we serve across Nunavut and the NWT.

Full update and program options as of May 1st, 2020

Follow us on social media if you want the latest updates on programs this year. We will directly contact all Participants, Alternates, Mentors, Host Families, and Supporters if and when we have more information.

March 17th, 2020

NYA Update : Covid-19

Today the NYA team finds ourselves, along with the rest of the world, in a new and changing situation, and we understand that there are likely questions about how this could affect NYA’s 2020 programs. The well-being of Participants and also of Volunteers, Mentors and stakeholders always comes first. As travel dates for this year program remain more than 100 days away and the situation continues to change rapidly, we have set May 1st as the date that we will communicate any necessary changes to this year’s programs. We are reaching out to every mentor by phone and email about the next steps and will continue to keep the lines of communication open.

We will continue to keep everyone updated on any changes, and will do everything we can to do what’s best for our Participants. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding 💙 We encourage anyone with immediate questions to contact us directly. Right now, the best thing everyone can do is to listen to and follow directions from their local health teams, and to make sure that the information they are sharing is coming from credible sources like the Public Health Agency of Canada or the World Health Organization.

Let’s be kind to each other, and let us know if there is any way NYA can help!

August 16th, 2019

Ayla’s top 10 summer moments

It is now August 4, and today is a free day. I think most people are just packing up and finishing assignments like I am. We’re also leaving for Montreal tomorrow. I have no idea whether or not I should spend my remaining money at Bayshore Mall or for Montreal. Other than money stuff, I have no roommate and the empty room is used as storage- so I have a lot of things to help put away, I think. I wish we could’ve stayed longer.

I got to have an amazing and hilarious time with my friends, especially Shavanna Ashevak, Victoria Piryuaq, and Jeannie Kalluk. The other Participants were good, but I shared a lot of fun experiences with them. Almost everyone has boldly said “I love you” to one another.

I also did my Personal Learning Project! As I mentioned in my other blog, it was about improving my knowledge in drawing buildings and more on colour theory. During my time at the art studio, I learned that they mostly teach about painting, which I find is too much effort for me. I also don’t have the space or money to do painting at home. I completely forgot about the buildings part because I had such a fun time going out of my comfort zone, (I rarely use this work) artistically.

There was many MANY things that happened throughout the summer, but I think it would be better to narrow it down with a top 10 list:

10. Meeting Monte the therapy dog. 9. Going on a train. so smooth. 8. Visiting the Ottawa Art Gallery. 7. Going on a Ferris Wheel. 6. The shopping spree with Shavanna JUST before curfew at Loblaw’s. 5. Seeing the cool dance competition with so many aesthetically appealing people at the Chinatown Night Market. 4. Walking along the Alexandra bridge at sunset. 3. Doing a presentation and hanging out with OCISCO. 2. The AG7 camp, overall. 1. Being at the Just Add Milk cereal bar, the first one in Ottawa.

And that’s the best experiences of the summer. I have a lot of packing to do today, and the last bit of assignments to finish. Thank you to everyone who has worked with Northern Youth Abroad this summer. I hope y’all have a great life.

August 16th, 2019

Alikammiaraq’s Personal Learning Project

For my personal learning project, I chose Acting–during the session 1 attended, we did vocal movement and physical exercises, after that we did a small scene. The scene that we did, we all had to do three discoveries, which were:

1) Expecting our family to be at the dock before leaving (by ship) for a year

2) Being shocked/ heartbroken to find out the ship has already left

3) Discovering that it hasn’t actually left, and that we’re able to say “bye.”

The reason why I chose acting for my personal learning project is that ever since I was young, I always wanted to attend an acting class–and Nunavut being “isolated” from the rest of Canada, I never had the chance to take an acting class.

When I say Nunavut being “isolated” what I actually mean is, Nunavut is the only territory that doesn’t have connecting roads to other communities, and the cost of flying from one community to another is crazy expensive.
After taking the Acting session, I learnt that I get afraid of public speaking in huge crowds.

What I found interesting is that you don’t have to take Acting to try and become an Actor, you can also taking Acting to be better at doing presentation, or to just get creative/ expand your creativity, or if you just want to learn to be a clear speaker in general.