About Us

What is NYA?

Northern Youth Abroad (NYA) is a registered not-for-profit charitable organization (Registered Charity # 86530 5791 RR0001) that cultivates youth leadership, individual career goals, cross-cultural awareness, and international citizenship amongst youth aged 15-22 from Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. The program strengthens the self-identity and cultural understanding of Participants and enhances their participation and success in the school system by providing a life-changing and life-directing experience relevant to the needs and aspirations of Northern youth. NYA operates three core programs: Canadian Program, International Program, and NYA Next. The organization also supports NYA Alumni and Northerners beyond core programming, including helping them transition into their next life steps and supporting them in achieving all of their goals.

Originally piloted in 1998 as the Nunavut Youth Abroad Program (NYAP), our organization has grown steadily over the years. In January 2005, the organization expanded its programming into the NWT. In 2006, it underwent an official name change to Northern Youth Abroad. In our first year, we selected 10 Participants from approximately 20 applications. In 2018, NYA surpassed 500 Alumni from almost every community across Nunavut and the NWT. This growth illustrates the success and impacts our programming is having in the north.

NYA has six full-time staff members, a northern-based Board of Directors, and many dedicated volunteers throughout Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and southern Canada. NYA’s dedicated board of directors contains a strong contingent of well-respected northern educators, and increasingly program alumni, who are able to guide the organization from an experienced perspective.

Since the initial pilot program in 1998, we have successfully supported more than 500 northern youth in defining and achieving their education and career goals. Our alumni boast significantly higher than average high school graduation rates and many have continued their education at Arctic and Aurora Colleges, as well as at colleges and universities across the country.


Healthy confident young leaders contributing to vibrant communities and a bright future.


Northern Youth Abroad seeks to foster leadership, cross-cultural awareness, individual career goals, and global citizenship in the youth of the North. The program promotes success in education by providing life-changing experiences through volunteer work and travel.

Guiding Principles

Northern Youth Abroad will:

  • Pursue excellence in experiential-based education for youth living in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
  • Be a culturally-relevant and welcoming organization where Participants develop a greater awareness and appreciation of their own culture while learning about others.
  • Be supportive of the personal growth of Participants and responsive to the needs of the youth that we serve.
  • Understand and promote the concept that leadership development can have different approaches for different Participants.
  • Serve as an instrument to connect Participants and Alumni, creating a network of confident leaders and volunteers.
  • Take measured risk to select Participants reflecting the diversity of Northern youth and providing them with tailored support.
  • Provide a safe and supportive atmosphere that takes each Participant out of their comfort zone, through travel, and invests in each Participant’s individual growth.
  • Enable Alumni to play a role in every aspect of the organization.
  • Be a northern-focused organization.
  • Promote a culture of friendship and fun.
  • Take a team-based approach to organizational leadership.
  • Strive to create an atmosphere where all stakeholders feel valued, engaged, and connected.
  • Be always collaborative, never competitive.