Candice Lys is the first Ashoka Fellow to come from the Northwest Territories.
Lys was awarded the prestigious Ashoka Fellowship for her work in creating FOXY (Fostering Open eXpression among Youth) — an organization that uses the arts to help teach sexual and mental health to young girls in the N.W.T.
The lifelong Ashoka fellowship awards social entrepreneurs from around the world a three-year stipend and access to an influential global network.
"Being a fellow is a huge privilege," said Lys.
Lys is the 54th Canadian fellow, selected after a rigorous process that lasted for more than three and a half years. She joins a group of visionaries that includes Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia and Nobel Peace Prize winners Muhammad Yunus and Kailash Satyarthi.
"It's a really great opportunity to connect with other social innovators from around the world," said Lys. "[I'm] just really honoured to represent the North at such a global scale."
With 3,000 fellows in over 90 countries, Ashoka is the largest network of social entrepreneurs in the world. Fellows are chosen based on five criteria: a new idea, the social impact of that idea, creativity, ethical fibre, and entrepreneurial spirit.
Ashoka helps FOXY 'scale up and expand'
Lys told CBC News that the Ashoka Fellowship has already helped extend their reach to the Yukon and Nunavut.
"Ashoka is an organization that helps grassroots organizations like FOXY scale up and expand. And to kind of turn community based ideas into things that are much bigger," said Lys.
In 2014, FOXY won a $1 million Arctic Inspiration prize, which Lys and co-founder Nancy MacNeill used to add a new program called SMASH (Strength, Masculinities, And Sexual Health) aimed at helping young boys. They've also been given $1.3 million in funding from the federal government and received a Governor General's Meritorious Service Award.
With help from the Ashoka Foundation she was chosen to give a Walrus talk about her work last year.
Lys said she plans to tap into the worldwide mentorship network to grow their organization and continue expanding programming in Nunavut and across Canada.