Arctic Inspiration Prize awards $3M to northern projects

The Arctic Inspiration Prize went to seven northern initiatives that deal with food sovereignty, youth programming and music education.

Projects focus on youth programming, food sovereignty and music education

The Dakhká Khwáan Dancers were one of several artists who performed at the Arctic Inspiration Prize ceremony that was broadcast across the country for the first time in its history. (Arctic Inspiration Prize)

The Arctic Inspiration Prize awarded more than $3 million to seven northern projects from music education to food sovereignty to Indigenous-led conservation. 

The million-dollar prize went to Imaa, Like this: Children and Youth Expressing Themselves Through Music. Their project is focused on teaching Inuit children music, employing Inuit youth and music instructors and to mentor youth to become musical leaders in their communities.

Imaa, Like this will give professional development opportunities to Nunavut educators and high school students and integrate traditional Inuktuk music into the programming. 

Team leaders Naiome Eegeesiak and Darlene Nuqingaq say winning the prize is a "dream come true."

They will develop culturally relevant after-school music programs for young children and mentor youth who are aspiring musicians to run programs in their communities. 

"We are thankful for the AIP for this opportunity to expand and enrich our music programs' outreach, and for our many partners and supporters for believing in us and the positive power of music education!" said Eegeesiak and Nuqingaq in a news release.

Leela Gilday was the artistic director of the Arctic Inspiration Prize ceremony. (Dave Brosha Photography)

$3M investment will bring additional investment from project partners

"In a year that has brought many challenges, sacrifices and uncertainties, the AIP has really gone above and beyond to make dreams come true" by supporting projects that are by and for the North, said Hannah Uniuqsaraq, chair of the AIP Charitable Trust. 

Uniuqsaraq said the $3-million investment will prompt even more contributions from project partners that are already committed to supporting the winning initiatives — bringing the total project value up to $5.6 million. 

The prizes were awarded Friday night during a pan-Northern virtual celebration broadcast on APTN.

Yukoner Chantal Rondeau, a freelance journalist, was one of two co-hosts of the 2021 Arctic Inspiration Prize. (Supplied)

Four $500K prizes go to food sovereignty, hearing care, ethical knowledge sharing

The Arctic Inspiration Prize also awards up to $500,000 to four laureates. 

This year, Niqihaqut won $451,000 to support food sovereignty and a social economy that is rooted in sustainable and innovative harvesting practices for processing and using country foods.

Niqihaqut will be guided by Inuit values and will provide local income, contribute to healthier diets and preserve local knowledge. 

Tusaajuit was awarded $500,000 for education and health care services related to hearing. Their project will ensure community members have resources for hearing loss prevention and to facilitate access to hearing care. 

The First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun's Indigenous Food Sovereignty Hub took home $485,000 to reduce barriers to healthy and culturally relevant foods. 

The final prize for $500,000 went to a youth initiative for ethical knowledge sharing and Indigenous-led conservation and stewardship. 

They will use the prize money to design research that uses Indigenous and community-based research methods and ethical approaches to sharing knowledge between Indigenous and Western ways of knowing.

Andrea Brazeau, a university student who hails from Nunavik, was one two co-hosts of the 2021 Arctic Inspiration Prize. (Supplied)

Two N.W.T. projects win $100K youth prizes

The territory's Artspace project received $100,000 to offer evening and weekend arts programming, as well as a daytime drop-in space for youth, people experiencing homelessness and professional artists. 

The Western Arctic Youth Collective was awarded $97,000 to create a network of allies and supporters to create youth programming in the Gwich'in and Inuvialuit regions. 

The ceremony included performances by Nunavut's Silla and Rise, Yukon's Dakhká Khwáan Dancers, N.W.T. fiddler Wesley Hardisty and The Pan Lab Alumni Choir from Nunatsiavut.