NWT projects win Arctic Inspiration Prize youth category

Last modified: February 20, 2021 at 9:50am

Two NWT youth projects emerged victorious at Friday’s Arctic Inspiration Prize ceremony, between them receiving almost $200,000 in funding.

In a ceremony broadcast by APTN, the Beaufort Delta’s Western Arctic Youth Collective received $97,000 while Yellowknife project Artspace won $100,000.

The non-profits were the only two finalists in the youth category.


The Western Arctic Youth Collective aims to create a network of Inuvialuit, Gwich’in, and allied youth across the region and host “creative and relevant programming.” The idea originated in 2018 and saw its first gathering take place in 2019 at Midway Lake.

In 2020 the collective became a project of MakeWay, formerly known as Tides Canada.

Inuvik mayor Natasha Kulikowski, who nominated the group, presented its members with the award during Friday’s ceremony.

“Your initiatives can have such a positive impact on the youth of our community and then, from that, on the community as a whole,” Kulikowski said.

Project lead Alyssa Carpenter said: “It feels so reassuring, so comforting, and just really hopeful that people believed in our vision, and it’s a vision that many youth have shared to me.


“I’m so excited to bring this back to the Western Arctic, to the region that means so much to me. The team we have is very amazing, dedicated, warm, loving people who just want to see things happen.”

Artspace, a project of non-profit Makerspace YK, hopes to offer programs that bring together young people, those experiencing homelessness, and professional artists.

Artspace, run by Makerspace in Yellowknife, receives its award from Mayor Rebecca Alty.

“It’s so wonderful to know that we can definitely plan to include the whole picture of what Makerspace is and really develop,” said project leader Cat McGurk upon receiving the prize. “I’m really excited.”

Yellowknife artist Terry Pamplin shared her enthusiasm.


“This is the best thing that’s ever happened in … 38 years to this concept of an artist space,” he said. “I can guarantee that the programming for this facility will have no problem finding local artists.”

Music mentorship and hearing care

In all, seven of the 10 listed finalists across the categories were awarded funding.

This is the first time the Arctic Inspiration Prize has given out more than $3 million in a single year.

Imaa, Like This – a Nunavut-based organization that provides music education to Inuit youth – was the big winner, taking home the million-dollar grand prize.

The non-profit was a finalist for last year’s grand prize. That year, the million dollars instead went to NWT and Nunavut group Northern Compass, which helps youth transition from high school to post-secondary education and success in their careers.

Kaska Dena Land Guardians from Ross River, Yukon. Photo: Norma Kassi

A proposal led by the Canadian Mountain Network (CMN) to train youth in Indigenous-led conservation and stewardship in the NWT, Yukon, and Nunatsiavut was awarded funds in the $500,000 category.

According to a news release celebrating the win, the money will be used to allow up to 30 youth from the three regions to attend 10-day research training camps in 2022 and 2023.

“Young people are enthusiastic. They want to be on the land,” said Norma Kassi, research co-director for CMN, in a statement. “They can be there to take care of the species, the animals, the water.

“The land is healing for them. It’s so important for them to try to make our planet better.”

Also successful in the $500,000 category were a hearing care project in Nunavik and food sovereignty initiatives in Nunavut and Yukon.

Dene Ahthít’e: Rebuilding the Indigenous Economy in the Dehcho – a project helmed by Herb Norwegian that aims to re-establish economic development in the area guided by Dene practices – was nominated in the same category but did not win funding.

The nomination period for the 2021 Arctic Inspiration Prize is now open.