‘A voice for the Arctic’: Fellowship for northern youth wraps up after 9 months

Group of people gathered around a pile of snow holding wooden spoons
A group of young from Alaska, Greenland, Yukon and the Northwest Territories joined together as part of a northern and Arctic fellowship. (Submitted by Ian Laing)

An inaugural fellowship saw 10 young people from across the North come together to share knowledge through cultural exchanges and community-based research.

The Arctic Resilient Communities Youth Fellowship is a nine-month program for northern youth.

Of the 10 fellows from Alaska, Greenland and northern Canada, seven were Indigenous. Two of the fellows were from the Northwest Territories, two from the Yukon, and one from Nunavut.

The cohort spent the first year in online conversations as well as visiting the participating countries.

A person dressed in bright orange wearing sunglasses and looking at the camera from the edge of a boat with a backdrop of water and possibly hills in the background.
Tiana Lemon, one of the youth participants from the Arctic Resilient Communities Youth Fellowship. (Submitted by Tobi Slaughter)

“I’ve always been a proud Indigenous, First Nations person,” said Tiana Lemon, a Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin citizen currently residing in Whitehorse.

“[But] seeing other people around the world … and really connecting the bridge between Indigenous knowledge and Western science, this is really the generation that’s doing it. And it’s really inspiring to be around people who are like- minded and also care about all these issues and really just want to create a voice for the Arctic,” Lemon said.

Aside from monthly virtual programming, the fellows also had the opportunity to travel to Anchorage, Alaska, Sisimiut and Nuuk in Greenland, and finally Yellowknife.

The first year of the fellowship wrapped up in Yellowknife in January. Each of the fellows worked on a personal “resilience” project, with a goal of giving back to the community.

The in-person meetings were a place to explore cultural heritage as well as sharing knowledge about issues their communities face. Part of the programming also included meeting experts, Indigenous and non-Indigenous Arctic leaders.

Image of a person at the end or side of a boat, looking out over to a glacier in the water.
Samreen Ahmad, a Whitehorse resident and a student at Yukon University, was part of the first cohort of fellows. (Submitted by Samreen Ahmad )

Samreen Ahmad is an environmental and conservation studies student at Yukon University. She saw the posting for the fellowship on Facebook.

“It was a very unique group and everybody was of different walks of life,” Ahmad said. “It was great to see the commonalities across the geographies but also the differences.”

“We had these circles where we talked about challenges that we faced as youth in the Arctic or as youth pushing for change in different aspects of the world, maybe in implementation of green energy or pushing for more artistic voices to be heard.”

Group of people, 13 altogether, gathered at the end of a table. Posing for a photo.
The inaugural cohort of the Arctic Resilient Communities Youth fellowship wrapped up in Yellowknife. Fellows also had the opportunity to travel to Alaska and Greenland. (Submitted by Ian Laing)
Three people standing and holding out their certificates for the photographer.
Tiana Lemon from the Yukon, Juliane Aronsen from Greenland, and Sierra Anderson from Alaska posing with their certificates of completion.

Related stories from around the North:

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