Peruvian, Canadian youth gather in Rankin Inlet
“We are really fortunate to be led by members of this community”
For the first time in 40 years, the Canada World Youth “Youth Leaders in Action” program set up shop in Nunavut, arriving July 31 in Rankin Inlet .
There, 10 Canadian youth from across the country, and nine Peruvian youth are volunteering at various places around the community.
They’ll help organize programs for the drop-in youth centre, the hamlet’s recreation department, as well as paint, clean up the town, and take on other physical jobs.
They’ll volunteer at the Kivalliq Outreach Program, Nunavut Parks and Conservation Office, the Rankin Inlet Library and the Kivalliq Inuit Association.
Lori Tagoona, the project supervisor, who participated in the Ukraine and British Columbia program in 2009 and 2010, says she is excited to see the program being hosted in Nunavut, and more specifically, in her hometown.
“I didn’t think it would really be happening so soon,” Tagoona said, adding “I thought, if they’re going to do a Rankin program, I have to be a part of it.”
Rankin Inlet was a natural choice because so far Canadian World Youth has graduated 17 Rankin Inlet youth from its program, and 30 more from the Kivalliq region.
This year’s crop of students comes from Arviat, Pangnirtung, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
“We have a really diverse team of Canadians,” program manager Vlad Gomez said.
So far, they’ve gone on a scavenger hunt around town and chowed down on local cuisine at a potluck dinner where they met their host families and performed four dances, three Peruvian and one Inuit.
“They pulled it off together,” Tagoona said.
The youth seem to be integrating with each other really well, she said.
But language barriers can be a challenge. The Peruvians speak Spanish, and must rely on volunteer interpreters to communicate.
And that’s important given the next four months will mean getting to know each other’s lifestyles, cultures and languages, including: Inuktitut, French, English, Spanish, and Quechua.
Each host family in Rankin took in both a Canadian and a Peruvian.
“The young people are the bridge to helping Northerners and Southerners understand each other,” program manager Gomez said.
“We are really fortunate to be led by members of this community.”
The program results in youth being leaders in their respective towns.
“[And] in terms of support for the community we thought this was an ideal place,” Gomez said.
Besides working at their jobs around town, the team will go on land trips and participate in community barbeques.
They’ll also create health-related presentations for the schools, looking at issues such as water problems and nutrition.
Before heading to Nunavut, the group met last week in Orangeville, Ont. for a week of orientation and to “build relationships based on respect for difference.”
That’s admirable, because “these youth are stepping out of their comfort zones, doing something completely different,” Gomez said.
“We want them to be able to go back home and work towards the social development of their own communities,” he said.
The group heads to Peru Sept. 20 to live with host families and volunteer in Palca, a town in the Andes to finish the last half of their exchange.
In Peru, they will contribute to the Healthy Homes Project, building improved stoves and ecological fridges for people in the town.
The new stoves reduce firewood use, which helps lower natural resource depletion and smoke inhalation.
Founded in 1971, Canada World Youth, a non-profit, develops leadership-oriented programs for young people 15 to 25.