From promoting Indigenous food sovereignty to helping children express themselves through music, the Arctic Inspiration Prize (AIP) awarded over $3 million this past weekend to several organizations who aim to better the northern communities they live in.
“In a year that has brought many challenges, sacrifices and uncertainties, the AIP has really gone above and beyond to make dreams come true and support these incredible by-the-North, and for-the-North projects,” said Hannah Uniuqsaraq, chair of the AIP Charitable Trust, in a press release.
The $1 million top prize went to Iqaluit-based Imaa, Like This: Children and Youth Expressing Themselves Through Music, which teaches Inuit children music and mentors Inuit youth to become community music leaders. The organization also provides development opportunities for Nunavut educators and post-secondary students in order to integrate traditional Inuktut music into their programs.
“Winning the AIP is a dream come true for us all!” said Naiome Eegeesiak and Darlene Nuqingaq, Imaa team co-leaders. “Many children, youth leaders, and parents have asked for more music education opportunities. Now, we can develop and offer a culturally relevant Sistema inspired after-school music program for young children, employ local music instructors, and provide mentorship to aspiring youth music leaders from across Nunavut to facilitate music programs in their home communities!”
Four organizations were awarded Laureate prizes worth up to $500,000 each. Among them was Youth Training in Ethical Knowledge Sharing and Co-production to Advance Northern, Indigenous-led Conservation and Stewardship ($500,000), which aims to provide northern youth with resources to construct research projects using Indigenous and community-based research methods, and Tusaajuit ($500,000), which focuses on bridging the gap between educational and healthcare services while helping community members get access to hearing care resources.
Meanwhile, The First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun’s Indigenous Food Sovereignty Hub, which aims to reduce barriers to accessing healthy and cultural foods, received $485,000, and Niqihaqut won $451,000 for its goal to develop a new model of social economy and food sovereignty that’s focused on sustainability and guided by Inuit values.
Two NWT organizations were also the recipients of AIC’s Youth awards. Artspace, which offers arts programs to youth, individuals experiencing homelessness and professional artists, received $100,000, while the Western Arctic Youth Collective (WAYC) was awarded $97,000. The WAYC aims to create a network of allies and youth while organizing creative and relevant events for the Gwich’in and Inuvialuit Settlement Regions.
The largest annual prize in Canada, AIP, “encourages, enables and celebrates the inspiring achievements of the people of the North.” The awards are put together each year by a community of Indigenous organizations, governments, and industry and philanthropy partners
This year’s prizes were awarded last Friday in a virtual celebration broadcast online and on APTN. The ceremony featured musical performances by NWT's Juno-award winning Leela Gilday, Nunavut’s Silla + Rise, the Yukon-based Dakhká Khwáan Dancers, and The Pan Lab Alumni Choir from Nunatsiavut.