It’s hard not to feel inspired when looking at what the three winners of this year’s Arctic Inspiration Prize do across the North. A $1.5-million purse has been split up between three organizations that strengthen families, empower young people and bring traditional knowledge to the fore. This is the fifth year the Arctic Inspiration Prize has been handed out, recognizing innovative programs and ideas created by—and for—Northerners.
Congratulations to this year’s laureates:
Qarmaapik Family House
Taking a $700,000-share of the prize, this prevention-based program in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Quebec works with community members in Nunavik to strengthen families and, ultimately, to try to keep them together. Cooking programs and parenting classes are offered, and the facility brings in counsellors, support workers and elders to work with families in crisis. There are also four bedrooms in the house for children and families who need to escape unsafe home environments, with a goal being to keep children out of the foster care system.
Information technology and computer science training opportunities are limited in Nunavut, but increasingly these skills are becoming a requirement for anyone entering the job market. In response, Pangnirtung, Nunavut-based Pinngquaq developed the t(e)ach project, a homegrown computer science and programming curriculum for Nunavummiut. With its $400,000 Arctic Inspiration Prize money, the organization is developing an on-line (and when the Internet is slow, off-line) curriculum that will allow students to train in game development, programming and computer engineering.
As conditions in the Arctic change, the safety of those hunting and travelling on the sea ice becomes a major concern. And the increasing unpredictability of the sea ice affects peoples’ livelihoods. The SmartICE program was awarded $400,000 for its system of monitoring and information-sharing around sea ice conditions. The system uses Inuit traditional knowledge in partnership with government and industry, to inform those who travel on the ice how to do so safely in near real-time. It has run pilot programs in Pond Inlet, Nunavut and Nain, Nunatsiavut so far—the prize money will allow the program to expand.