Canada: Inuit Youth Summit begins on Thursday

Maatalii Okalik, the president of the National Inuit Youth Council. (Courtesy Maatalii Okalik)
Maatalii Okalik, the president of the National Inuit Youth Council. (Courtesy Maatalii Okalik)
Canada’s National Inuit Youth Summit will kick off on Thursday in Iqaluit, the capital city of Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut.

Approximately 100 Inuit between the ages of 15-30 years old, from each of Canada’s four Inuit regions, will participate in everything from workshops on traditional skills, to establishing upcoming priorities for the National Inuit Youth Council (NIYC).

“(The Summit) allows the Inuit youth to identify  priorities that they bring from their respective regions,” said Maatalii Okalik, the president of the National Inuit Youth Council, the group that has set up the event.

“Youth will be able to contribute and raise their voices and concerns.”

Feature Interview

Listen to Eye on the Arctic’s complete conversation with Maatalii Okalik, president of the National Inuit Youth Council, where we talk more about culture, education and the current Canadian federal election:

Representing regional differences
Iqaluit, the site of this week's National Inuit Youth Summit. (Levon Sevunts / Radio Canada International)
Iqaluit, the site of this week’s National Inuit Youth Summit. (Levon Sevunts / Radio Canada International)

Canada’s Inuit regions are spread out across the country from the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in Canada’s western Arctic all the way down to Nunatsiavut in Atlantic Canada.

Each have different cultures, dialects and histories.

But Okalik says this diversity makes the youth voice a stronger one, especially when bringing groups together from across the country to discuss issues like language preservation – and what the means for young Inuit today.

“There are lot of negative implications for not being able to speak Inuktitut fluently,” she says. “However I want to help to eliminate the shame around not being able to speak Inuktitut fluently.”

Five-day event

Other priority issues include cultural preservation, suicide prevention and education and traditional knowledge.

The National Inuit Youth Council was  established by  Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), Canada’s National Inuit organization, in 1993 to help ITK better understand the issues and priorities of Inuit youth.

The Summit runs from August 20- 24.

Follow the Inuit Youth Summit on Social Media
Facebook Page: National Inuit Youth Council
Twitter: @InuitYouth
Instagram: @InuitYouth

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  Northern Canada doesn’t have a university … Does it need one?, Blog by Heather Exner-Pirot

Finland:  Young Karelians face blacklisting by Kremlin over Finns Party visit, Yle News

Greenland: Losing their Words – Can standardisation save Inuktitut in the North, Eye on the Arctic

United States: In Northwest Arctic, teens to lead the way in suicide prevention, Alaska Dispatch News

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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