Three northern groups share $1.5M Arctic Inspiration Prize

The Qaggig team celebrating its Arctic Inspiration Prize win worth $600,000. Photo Credit: Fred Cattroll/ArcticNet
The Qaggig team celebrating its Arctic Inspiration Prize win worth $600,000.
Photo Credit: Fred Cattroll/ArcticNet

Three northern projects, ranging from a program to support Arctic performance artists, to helping hearing impaired children, and advancing health and wellness among northern communities, shared the $1.5 million Arctic Inspiration Prize Wednesday night.

The awards ceremony at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa, attended by Canada’s Governor General David Johnston, featured a performance by Tanya Tagaq, Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, Christine Duncan and Nunavut Sivuniksavut.

Qaggiq: Nurturing the Arctic Performing Arts program was awarded $600,000 to implement its plan to revitalize Arctic culture and the performing arts.

“It is absolutely amazing,” Williamson Bathory said, speaking on her cellphone from Ottawa. “It changes our landscape as performing artists in the Arctic.”

(click to listen to the interview with Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory)

Qaggiq represents a diverse team of northern performing artists, educators and arts administrators from across the Arctic and southern Canada, Williamson Bathory said.

“Basically, it’s a two-part project where in the first place we will be creating a cultural map of the Arctic: who the performing artists are, where they live, what their practice is and what their needs are,” said Williamson Bathory. “The second part is a training the trainer program where the established performance artists are given the support and skills in order to teach their practice to children and youth.”

Healthier youth

The second slice of the prize went to another project that targets youth.

The Tri-Territorial Recreation Training project received $600,000 to train future leaders across the North in recreation programing.

“In Northern communities there are always people who are willing to support positive recreational programming, but a lot of times they are ill-equipped,” says Olympic cyclist Zach Bell.

Bell grew up in Watson Lake, Yukon, and knows first-hand how important recreational activities are to young people in the North.

“Positive programming doesn’t just give youth a new thing to focus on that may take them away from the more negative distractions.

Better education outcomes
Better Hearing in Education for Northern Youth, which would see amplification systems installed in every school in each of the 13 communities in Nunavut’s Qikiqtani region to help children with hearing problems, won $300,000 of the money. © Fred Cattroll/ArcticNet
Better Hearing in Education for Northern Youth, which would see amplification systems installed in every school in each of the 13 communities in Nunavut’s Qikiqtani region to help children with hearing problems, won $300,000 of the money. © Fred Cattroll/ArcticNet

Better Hearing in Education for Northern Youth (BHENY), walked away with a $300,000 cheque for its plan to foster literacy and academic outcomes for youth living with hearing loss in the Qikiqtani Region of Nunavut.

“We are thrilled to receive this support from the Arctic Inspiration Prize,” said Lynne McCurdy, an audiologist from Guelph, Ontario who will lead the BHENY team of hearing health care professionals, educators, parents, and community leaders. said McCurdy.  “The funds, and the awareness that the Prize will generate, will have a huge impact on our plans to support the needs of children with hearing loss.”

The BHENY project will include classroom-based sound amplification technology, professional development, training and support for educators, parents and the community.

In addition to the financial award, the laureates were presented with artwork created by sculptor Adamie Anautak from Akulivik, Nunavik, Dakhl’awèdí carver Calvin Morberg from Whitehorse, Yukon, and copper sculptor Brian Walker from Whitehorse, Yukon.

The prize was founded in 2012 by Arnold Witzig and Sima Sharifi.  To-date, 11 teams have been awarded prizes totalling $4.5 million.

Levon Sevunts

Levon Sevunts, Radio Canada International

Born and raised in Armenia, Levon started his journalistic career in 1990, covering wars and civil strife in the Caucasus and Central Asia. In 1992, after the government in Armenia shut down the TV program he was working for, Levon immigrated to Canada. He learned English and eventually went back to journalism, working first in print and then in broadcasting. Levon’s journalistic assignments have taken him from the High Arctic to Sahara and the killing fields of Darfur, from the streets of Montreal to the snow-capped mountaintops of Hindu Kush in Afghanistan. He says, “But best of all, I’ve been privileged to tell the stories of hundreds of people who’ve generously opened up their homes, refugee tents and their hearts to me.”

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