Meet the contenders for Wednesday’s Arctic Inspiration Prize



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Inuvialuit and Gwich’in projects are on the shortlist of eight contenders for Arctic Inspiration Prize funding at a February 2023 ceremony in Ottawa.

An Inuit-led program to build mental wellness supports across Inuit Nunangat, including the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, is a challenger for the million-dollar grand prize.

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The project, Pilimmaksaijuliriniq, is shortlisted in the highest-value category alongside Kuugalak, a “cultural campus” being developed in Cambridge Bay.

Pilimmaksaijuliriniq will build “additional mental health competencies and Inuit wellness traditional teachings into our programs that will support our community members who deliver community-based programming,” a summary of the project published by the Arctic Inspiration Prize states.

“This will support community organizers, community champions, activists and trainers who deliver community-based programming across Inuit Nunangat, with the goals of fostering, protecting and building the resilience of all community members.”

There are three projects shortlisted the second category worth up to $500,000.

Sharon Snowshoe, at the Gwich’in Tribal Council’s Department of Cultural Heritage, is the team leader for a project that engages high school students with “historic artifacts cited in stories told by community Elders,” a summary states.

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The project, Lessons from Our Elders, would help young people visit museums, learn about 3D scanning technology and the creation of virtual copies of objects, then interview Elders who can place artifacts in their cultural context.

“Working with 10 communities over a one-year period, this project aims to produce a virtual exhibition with artifacts that most northerners would otherwise never see, and stories that most northerners would otherwise never hear,” the summary concludes.

In the same category are a Yukon-based project offering “intensive and ongoing aftercare support following attendance at treatment programs” and a project that will help to grow Nunavik’s capacity to manage its own research.

The youth category, where projects can each win up to $100,000, also has three entrants. (The Arctic Inspiration Prize ordinarily announces 10 or more contenders annually but this year shortlisted only eight.)

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Tamara Voudrach leads a project that seeks to run a youth development program in Tuktoyaktuk ahead of a circumpolar Northern Games celebration in Inuvik. Also shortlisted are an Iqaluit youth collective seeking to increase Inuit representation in advertising and other forms of media, and a Whitehorse school-based traditional camp.

Winners will be announced in a live-streamed ceremony on Wednesday evening.

In the last funding cycle, all six NWT projects selected as finalists received cash.