NWT’s Candice Lys receives Indspire Award at Ottawa ceremony

Last modified: March 8, 2020 at 9:06am


Dr Candice Lys, co-founder of a groundbreaking NWT-based sexual health movement, received an Indspire Award on Friday night at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre.

Lys, a member of the Fort Smith Métis Council, was recognized for her development of effective, northern sexual and mental health programming over the past eight years.


The Indspire Awards bill themselves as “the highest honour the Indigenous community bestows upon its own people.” Around 15 of the awards are handed out annually. 

Lys received this year’s education for her work co-developing the Foxy (Fostering Open eXpression Among Youth) and Smash (Strength, Masculinity, And Sexual Health) programs.

Foxy won a million-dollar Arctic Inspiration Prize shortly after its founding and is now one of the best-known programs in the NWT. Foxy and Smash together say they have engaged more than 6,000 youth across the three territories since 2012.

Indspire Awards: Full list of 2020 winners

“It is an incredible honour to receive an Indspire Award for education and to represent my hometown of Fort Smith and the NWT Métis Nation,” Lys told Cabin Radio.


“I am humbled to be among the 362 remarkable Indigenous laureates from over the last 26 years, and especially honoured to stand beside the other 10 recipients at the ceremony in Ottawa.

“Thank you to everyone who helped contribute to me receiving this award: my parents and family, my Elders and teachers, all the folks who have been involved with Foxy and Smash over the years, and especially all the northern and Indigenous youth who’ve been part of our programming.”

The Foxy and Smash programs deliver sexual health, mental health, and resiliency education through peer education, arts, and traditional knowledge.

“A tireless advocate for Indigenous youth, Dr Lys incorporates Indigenous knowledge into all that she does, grounding her work in empowerment,” the Indspire organization said of her work.


Lys has previously been recognized for championing a new approach to sexual health education. In 2016, she received a Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada.

She is the first Métis woman to become an Ashoka Fellow. The fellowship recognizes leading social entrepreneurs worldwide.