Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic January 29, 2014 - 9:06 am

Coalition of Arctic youth break the ice

Inaugural conference gathers youth from eight countries

SARAH ROGERS
Arctic Children and Youth Foundation's executive director Kylie Aglukark, at right, has helped coordinate conference activities in Iqaluit, one of Breaking the Ice's several hub communities. The conference runs Feb. 1 and 2 from Ottawa. (FILE PHOTO)
Arctic Children and Youth Foundation's executive director Kylie Aglukark, at right, has helped coordinate conference activities in Iqaluit, one of Breaking the Ice's several hub communities. The conference runs Feb. 1 and 2 from Ottawa. (FILE PHOTO)

Youth from across the circumpolar world will gather in Ottawa this weekend — virtually and in person — to address the environmental, economic and social challenges facing their communities.

The Youth Arctic Coalition will host its inaugural conference called Breaking the Ice Feb. 1 and Feb. 2 in Ottawa, with smaller conference hubs in eight different countries.

The Coalition, a global youth forum that formed just over a year ago, gathers young people from around the circumpolar world to create a stronger voice on Arctic issues.

The coalition’s northern Canada outreach director, Jenna Gall, said the conference is one of the organization’s first projects, designed to help better define its goals.

“It’s pretty essential that we bring all these individuals and organizations together under the same roof to discuss what we see this organization becoming in the future,” she said.

“What are the issues that we as an organization have the potential to influence at a greater political level?”

About 250 youth are registered to take part in the two-day conference based in Ottawa. But not all those participants will be in Ottawa for the weekend — many will join in online from their own communities.

In Canada, five northern communities will serve as conference hubs, where organizers will host speakers and workshops to tackle local issues.

Iqaluit is one of those hubs, where the Arctic Children and Youth Foundation is coordinating events to be hosted at the local Nunavut Arctic College campus.

ACYF’s executive director Kylie Aglukark has helped book local speakers like Jenny Tierney from the Embrace Life Council to talk about suicide prevention and Chris Reddy, a city of Iqaluit youth programmer.

But one of the conference’s benefits will be giving Iqaluit youth virtual access to the Ottawa conference, Aglukark said.

“I think it’s really important for youth to see what happens in other regions and countries – what similar situations they face and what goes on around the circumpolar world,” she said.

About 25 people have registered to take part in Breaking the Ice in Iqaluit, while another 30 youth will join in online from other communities in Nunavut.

Ottawa conference speakers include Geoff Green of Students on Ice, traditional Inuit athlete Johnny Issaluk and Martin von Mirbach, the first of WWF Canada’s Arctic program.

The conference’s workshop discussion will be focused around eight topics, including food security, climate change, culture and language and resource development.

Gall said the goal of the conference is to finalize the coalition’s constitution and mission statement.

The coalition also plans to form a youth advisory groups whose role it would be to take position on Arctic issues and present those declarations to the Arctic Council and to governments of Arctic states.

You can register to attend Breaking the Ice here.

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