March 23rd, 2017

Northern Youth Abroad recognizes David Joanasie for Outstanding Achievement

David Joanasie, from Cape Dorset Nunavut was presented with the Northern Youth Abroad (NYA) Outstanding Alumni Award. The award recognizes a member of Northern Youth Abroad’s alumni community who demonstrates leadership, excellence and contribution to their community. 

David completed the NYA Canadian Program in 2002, and went on to complete NYA’s International Program in 2003. He was elected in 2013 as a Member of the Legislature of Nunavut, as the member for South Baffin. He was the youngest person ever elected to this role. Before his election Mr. Joanasie held positions with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, the Government of Nunavut, and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. He has also attended Nunavut Sivuniksavut, Saint Mary’s University and Algonquin College, and held volunteer positions in his home community and beyond.

Northern Youth Abroad is a non-profit organization that was created in 1998 to offer both Canadian and International travel and education programming to youth 15-22 living in Nunavut and the NWT. NYA’s Programs are designed to help participants increase their self-confidence, gain a better appreciation of their own culture while learning about others, and develop skills and experience that invests in their preparation to set and achieve education, career and personal goals. One of the many objectives of NYA is to help inspire young Northerners to complete secondary and post-secondary education and to take on leadership roles in their home communities. The Outstanding Alumni Award was launched in 2007 to commemorate the organization’s 10-year anniversary, and has honoured seven members of the alumni to date.

In celebration of NYA’s 20th Year Anniversary 2017 will include a number of events and activities aimed at recognizing NYA’s alumni, participants, volunteers and partners. In addition to the presentation of the Outstanding Alumni Award long-time volunteer Lois Philipp of Fort Providence, NWT was presented with the Outstanding Volunteer Award, in the Builder category, in recognition of her substantial and significant contributions to NYA and its Participants at the same ceremony. We congratulate both David and Lois, and offer our deepest thanks for their contributions.

For more information or photos please contact:
Rebecca Bisson, Executive Director

October 28th, 2016

Saveah is on track to achieving her goals

Saveah (middle) with fellow participants Napassi (left) and Sandra (right) show off the doghouse they built in construction class.

Saveah (middle) with fellow participants Napasi (left) and Sandra (right) show off the doghouse they built in construction class.

My name is Saveah Ilgok and I am from Kugluktuk, Nunavut.

I was a participant in NYA Next 2016. I spent my summer with 16 other participants from Nunavut and NWT and we spent the summer at Algonquin College in Ottawa, ON. During the 5 week placement in Ottawa I did a personal learning project with Jonathan Holmes at Algonquin College. My Personal Learning Project was about my goals that I set for myself. The goals I set for myself were to graduate high school in August 2017. I also want to do a year of Nunavut Sivuniksavut, and after that to attend Algonquin College for Aesthetics and Business Entrepreneur.

When I was with Jonathan, I got to see the Aesthetics classroom also the Business Entrepreneur classroom at Algonquin College. In a few years, my goal is to own a business where I can do aesthetics in my home community. An aesthetician is someone who works at a salon or spa, giving specialized skincare treatments. They also perform body treatments such as body wraps, massages, waxing, sugaring, manicures and pedicures. Aestheticians have specialized knowledge when it comes to skincare products and can recommend an at-home skincare regime that would appropriate for their client.

Participating in Northern Youth Abroad helped me see what is possible for my future and put me on the path to achieving my goals.

October 28th, 2016

Kait pursues her dream to become a teacher

Kait getting in gear for her firefighting training

Kait getting in gear for her firefighting training

Hey, my name is Kait Porter from Gjoa Haven, Nunavut.

I just recently turned 21 years old and I have a 3 year-old son. I attended Northern Youth Abroad as a Canadian Program participant in 2011. I was placed in Prince Edward Island and volunteered as an art teacher at Confederation Art Camp. This summer I attended Northern Youth Abroad with the most recent program “NYA Next”. It was a fantastic experience along with the other 16 participants from Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

We travelled from our home communities to Ottawa, Ontario for 6 weeks. We started off doing Orientation with the Northern Youth Abroad Staff and meeting the other participants. We learned about what we were going to do for the entire summer and did a ton of activities and workshops, including personal goal setting! This year, personally, I gained a lot of knowledge. I never knew that much about carpentry (well I knew how to hammer and the basics) but not actually the proper ways of how to build or use tools. We also learned firefighting skills and how to live in a big city like Ottawa and how to get around (because Prince Edward Island was much smaller)!

During the summer, I realized that I had known I wanted to become a teacher ever since I volunteered in Prince Edward Island helping an art teacher, but that 5 years had gone by and I never did anything about it. So during the summer, NYA Staff talked with me about what I would like to do or where do I see myself in the next 5 years and I told them I want to become a teacher and even a principal. NYA Staff showed me a lot of programs that were available in order to become a teacher and asked if I am really serious about it. I thought if I can leave my kid for 6 weeks in order to gain more knowledge, then I can go for a year of schooling.

So now I am here upgrading in Ottawa at Carleton University with the Aboriginal Enriched Support Program (AESP). I am taking courses in Indigenous Studies along with Childhood Studies and the first year seminar AESP course. I never really thought that going to school was possible until my child was older but after being here and attending Northern Youth Abroad, I noticed I had way more confidence to reach my goals. Looking at all the goals I want to achieve, I knew there was no more time to waste. The first step to your goal is to apply or do something about it. There was a lot of great times and success this summer and also difficult times because I had never left my son for more than two weeks in his life. I learnt that even though he is not with me that I am still doing this for us because all the knowledge I am gaining I will pass on to him when he gets older like carpentry, firefighting, and learning how to live in the city. Pursuing my education will benefit both of us. Once I complete this year, I would like to move to the two-year Early Childhood Education Program at Algonquin College. By then, I will have adapted to city and university/college life better, and I can bring my son here because he will be 4 years-old.

October 18th, 2016

Michael’s exciting experiences in Kingston, Ontario

Michael visits Ojigkwanong, the Aboriginal Student Centre at Carleton University, to find out what resources are available to students.

Michael visits Ojigkwanong, the Aboriginal Centre at Carleton University, to find out what resources are available to students.

Hi, my name is Michael Jewell and I am from Gjoa Haven, Nunavut. I heard about Northern Youth Abroad (NYA) from fellow NYA alumni in my home community. I became interested in the program because friends of mine told me great, fun, and exciting stories about when they attended NYA. So I gave it a shot, got called for an interview and was selected as one of the participants!

I was placed in Kingston, Ontario. It was my first time in Ontario, and the memories there will last a lifetime. I worked for Habitat for Humanity in my host community. I got to meet some awesome co-workers who taught me a lot about the work place and created a positive work environment.

Thanks to my host parents, Jason and Sherri Mckane, I got to enjoy Diana BBQ chicken sauce. That sauce and I connected like butter on warm toast, or bacon sizzling on the frying pan. I got to experience what life is like in southern Canada. Youth in the NWT and Nunavut get the chance to meet great new people from across the two territories on this program! A big thanks for the NYA Staff for putting their time and effort to help youth in the North prepare for college and help guide them to for their potential future.

Most important to note, I got a picture with Connor McDavid, who is now the captain of the Edmonton Oilers. I am lucky to say that he rubbed and touched my back. That was the highlight of my summer. I recommend that anyone who is interested in the program should make the most of their opportunity. You won’t regret it.

I enjoyed my 8 weeks of summer, a big thanks to all the funders and most of all to the NYA staff!

Best regards,


October 17th, 2016

Bradley gets a taste of the performing arts for his Personal Learning Project

Bradley Blackduck (far right) shows off the doghouse he built in construction class with his classmates.

Bradley Blackduck (far right) shows off the doghouse he built in construction class with his fellow NYA NEXT Participants. 

Hello you wonderful human beings,

Thanks again for reading my first blog and here is my second blog! Be prepared to be impressed…for my Personal Learning Project this summer, I met with Jon Holmes at Algonquin College who helped me get a better sense of the performing arts. I’ve been planning on attending college for the performing arts for a while now, but just have to decide if I will apply for this year or next.

Jon showed me the production set, the theatre stage, the make-up room, the dressing room, and the set-building areas. I have an advantage now too in set-design because I got to take a carpentry course for 3 weeks thanks to NYA. When I first stepped on the stage, I was overwhelmed with excitement but also with anxiety…the only time I’ve never been on a stage was when I was the main character in a play called “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”. It was all very intense but I was up to the task. I’ll never forget that experience. Because of that moment, I wanted to look more into the performing arts. But I was never able to truly commit to the idea of me, a Native small-town boy wanting to be on stage because there weren’t many role models for kids like me in the North to follow.

On Friday August 5th 2016, I was able to job shadow at a theatre camp at the Nepean Creative Arts Centre from 9am to 3pm. At this camp, I had the opportunity to help with face painting the little kids who had a play in the afternoon which was fun. I got to see them rehearse their play before the big opening that afternoon. When the time came for them to do the show for the other campers, they weren’t even shy! At that same camp, there was also a fashion show which was cool. I had the chance to see their creations before the show and let me tell you, I could see all the hard work they had put in! I’m glad for the experience I had over there.

Signing off,

Bradley Blackduck

October 14th, 2016

Julianne learns about inclusion in Powell River, BC

Julie works on assignments at Orientation to prepare for her summer placement.

Julie works on assignments at Orientation to prepare for her summer placement.

My name is Julianne Angulalik and I am from Kugluktuk, Nunavut, the most western part of Nunavut. I am currently 15 years old, turning 16 this summer.

I was placed here in Powell River, British Columbia to do volunteer work and get work experience down south. My work placement is Inclusion Powell River, where I work with people who have disabilities and special needs. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I work with the younger group (7-14 years old), where we play at the Ocean View every morning. Then, we either go swimming or to one of the parks and just play around and do activities. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I help out at the Jean Pike Centre with the adults. We also do fun activities, such as square dances, yoga, RICHARD SIMMONS, sing songs, do scavenger hunts, have hot dog Tuesdays, and we also watch movies to end the day or play some games.

I have learned a lot in this program so far. It is a great opportunity for me and everyone else, because you learn and live down south for 7 weeks. I’ve learned about new cultures, how people live down south, the weather change, and adapting to the environment everywhere.

October 13th, 2016

Elliot’s unforgettable summer in Ottawa, ON

Elliot dreams of being a graphic novelist.

Elliot dreams of being a graphic novelist.

My name is Elliot Betsaka. I’m 18 and am from Nahanni Butte, NT. I’m a pretty shy person and I don’t have a ton of experience being inside large cities (my village has a population of roughly 100 if that tells you anything) but I was excited to try something new and to travel away from home for the summer. NYA gave me the opportunity to see who I am, who I could be, when I’m unrestricted by everything that weighs me down back home. I’m transgender, and while I’m not in the closet, I don’t openly publicize it either. Being different in a small community can be difficult at the best of times, and nearly impossible at the worst of times.

When I was told I was being placed in Ottawa with a queer host family, and that one of my host parents was actually transgender as well, I was beyond excited. NYA actually cared about the issues I face being a trans youth and did their very best to be accommodating. They called me and asked me if I would be comfortable with a male or female host buddy, if I’d like to stay in the guys’ cabin at camp, what name or pronouns I prefer, and they made sure to let me know that they had my back.

Being in Ottawa meant that EVERYONE I met only knew me as Elliot, not my birth name, not who I used to be. I felt accepted and understood like never before when I met my host family. They introduced me to other trans and queer people and took me to some pride events where I was able to fully express myself.

The Northern Youth Abroad Canadian Program has given me so many wonderful experiences that I’ll never forget. I’ve met people from all around the world, each of them with their own lessons to teach me. I’ve had wild adventures together with my host family and an awesome time at my work placement. I worked at Virtual Ventures, an engineering and technology camp at Carleton University, and got to teach kids about programming, electronics, and multimedia.

Being away from home was hard, but it proved that I was capable of standing on my own, that I am able to survive out in the world. It gave me the reassurance I had been craving for a long time. I’m anxious about going to secondary, about leaving the North, but NYA helped me with that anxiety. I’m excited like never before to go on to the next chapter of my life and further my education.

They taught me and the other NYA participants all about scholarships, where to find funding, different degrees, colleges and universities, future careers, etc. They gave me the knowledge I needed to know what my next step is. There’s so much I don’t know about the South and secondary, and sometimes I didn’t know where to start. NYA made that easier for me. Now, I have a clearer understanding of what I want to do, where I want to go, and how I can get there. This summer changed me in a lot of ways, and all of this was made possible because of Northern Youth Abroad.

I’ve really enjoyed this program and can’t wait to come back again to do the other phases. Travelling and being away from home for so long can be really difficult but I think it was a good experience for all of us participants. We all need to leave the nest eventually and NYA gives you the chance to safely experience that while you gain valuable work experience. I know I’m coming back from this program better and badder than ever and I’m happy to know I’m still not done growing as a person. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and about the world this summer. I would recommend this program to anyone who’s eligible; you have to work hard, but in the end, it’s all worth it. I’ve had a great summer that I’ll never forget.

October 12th, 2016

Chantell’s life in Campbell River, BC for the summer

Chantell enjoys a windy day by the ocean in Campbell River, BC.

Chantell enjoys a windy day by the ocean in Campbell River, BC.

Hi, my name is Chantell Orlias and I’m from the small community of Colville Lake, NT. In the Canadian Phase of NYA, things have been pretty awesome so far. I’ve met a lot of people and I have gotten to do a lot of travelling, which I love.

I am really enjoying my time in the south and the work experience here in Campbell River, BC. I am working at a bakery for my summer volunteering placement. The place is small but it gets pretty busy some days. The people who work here are pretty cool and really fun to work with. I start work pretty early, at 6am, but I’ve always managed to get up and get to work on time. My placement buddy and I have a host mother who is pretty cool, and she is currently fostering two young kids with our stay in her home which I think is awesome. She is a social worker.

The time spent here has taken me by surprise, it is really beautiful here on Vancouver Island. It’s hot out most days but there is always wind so that is what makes this place so much better, for me anyways. We’ve been to Victoria, which was pretty amazing, and on the way there we passed through Nanaimo, which is about an hour and a half away. We got to meet up with some other NYA Participants who were placed on the island also. Overall, things have been great and I have not gotten too homesick. Campbell River has been more than I expected so I’m really grateful for this opportunity.

October 12th, 2016

Cara’s adventures in Sidney, BC

Cara by the pier in Sidney

Cara by the pier in Sidney

Hello, my name is Cara Killiktee and I am from Pond Inlet Nunavut. I am placed in Sidney, BC. My work placement in Sidney is a daycare called Adel’s Play N Discovery House. My work experience involves teaching children the letters of the ABC’s and counting numbers up to 10. The cute little children that I teach in the daycare are from 3-6 years of age, which makes me happy because they are easy to understand and they tend to listen easily. I am happy to be placed in Adel’s Play N Discovery.

For every participant of the Canadian phase, we stay with host families and mine is Glen Brown and Cathy Brown along with their daughter Emily. I am also glad that I was placed with my host family because I get along with them so well (but they spoil me a little too much haha). While living here for five weeks I have noticed some different things here than in my home community. The differences I see is that their plants are longer than our shrubs, and they have many more kinds of bugs. The bugs I commonly see back home are black flies and mosquitos, but here they have all types, including wasps. What I also find different is the horses (THEY ARE HUGE! Unlike the dogs I see back home!) how I see the horses is that they are just big dogs to me! Just kidding, they are very unique animals!

I see some similarities in the culture here in Sidney with ours back home. For example, I have seen some Indigenous art designs here of their spirits, which are unique but also familiar to me. Their sewing techniques are pretty similar too – they make outdoor footwear here similar to our kamiks back home.

In the past few weeks here in Sidney, my host parents took me to the old car show that was held in Victoria BC. I saw some awesome old cars and trucks that were made in 1920’s-1980’s. I found it fascinating because I’m a bit obsessed with old-fashioned cars. With my work placement, my supervisors and I took the children to the Vancouver Aquarium and they loved it. (I sure did too!) It was fantastic because we got to see an octopus! Last but not least, of all my experiences here in Sidney, my favourite was when my host father took me on a ferry ride to the islands nearby. I loved every minute of it because it had also reminded me of the time I was on the CCGS Amundsen Coast Guard ship. While on the ferry, my host father let me stand on the bridge to get a good view and it was beautiful! I sure would like to come back here to BC to see my host family one day. My experiences ended with a trip to Vancouver with my host mother.  Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible.

October 12th, 2016

Savanna develops independence in Ottawa, ON


Savanna volunteered as a youth leader at a YMCA camp for kids.

Hello everyone! My name is Savanna Pikuyak. I’m from Hall Beach, Nunavut. I’m a participant in the Canadian Program with Northern Youth Abroad and I was placed in Ottawa, Ontario volunteering at a YMCA youth summer camp with an age group from 6-9. I thought I never had a chance to go this year since I was an Alternate but I get a call the day before Orientation from NYA asking if I can go the next day, of course I said yes. I had a loving and welcoming host family with whom I got really close. My host parents welcomed many international students into their home but never from their own country, so it was a first for everybody. I took buses going to work so I became independent going to other places like the mall and other parts of Ottawa. The activities I did during the summer were: going to go see the Northern Lights Show downtown at the Parliament Hill, seeing horses for the first time, going to the National Art Gallery, and playing in the pool with my triplet host brothers and sister! Living in the south gave me the opportunity to get glasses. I had a great time at Orientation and Re-Orientation because I learned about other cultures and met other youth like me. I encourage youth from my community to apply for this program because I want them to experience what’s it like to live in the south and the opportunities you have while living here. NYA gives you the chance to be part of something big and I really enjoyed my experience!