Congratulations to Yukon’s 2017 Arctic Inspiration Prize winners

Two Yukon projects were among the winners of the Arctic Inspiration Prize at a ceremony held in Ottawa last night.

Our Families, Our Way: The Peacemaking Circle – a project based in the Carcross/Tagish First Nation – has received $500,000 to support its initiative, which merges the best of old and new ways into an innovative peacemaking circle curriculum. It will provide training for community members and professionals to help them work together to secure the best interests of all children and families – which is the focus of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation’s Family Act.

Premier Sandy Silver presented the prize to Lori Duncan, director of Health and Wellness for the Carcross/Tagish First Nation, who accepted it on behalf of all of those who have been involved in the project.

Another Yukon winner, this time in the youth category, was the Whitehorse-based Rivers to Ridges program. This educational initiative, which was awarded $100,000, will develop a forest school to give preschoolers an opportunity to learn outside and develop a deeper sense of empathy, awareness and community. The school will also incorporate First Nations knowledge and teachings by involving Elders.

Erin Nicolardi and Emily Payne, co-founders of the program, were present to accept the award from City of Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis.

I believe that Yukoners are among the most innovative people in Canada and I am proud to see deserving Yukon initiatives receive support from the Arctic Inspiration Prize. Both of the winners are demonstrating the relevance and importance of traditional knowledge to our education and well-being – and I am looking forward to seeing both flourish thanks in part to this support, which is a testament to the hard work and dedication that has been invested in these projects.

Premier Sandy Silver

This project builds on the work of so many amazing people, some who have passed on, who had the courage to advocate for C/TFN's Family Act and for peacemaking circles. We are standing on their shoulders today. The Carcross/Tagish First Nation is deeply grateful to the Gordon Foundation for nominating this project, and to the Arctic Inspiration Prize founders, staff and volunteers. We are also very appreciative of the financial support provided in the early phase of the project by the Yukon Government through the Mental Wellness Strategy Innovation Fund, and to the support of the National Indian Brotherhood Trust.

Carcross/Tagish First Nation director of Health and Wellness Lori Duncan

We are deeply grateful to be able to run outdoor mentorship programs for children and youth on the traditional land of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and Ta’an Kwäch'än Council. Our vision is to help make it possible for all Northern children to develop deep relationships with the land. With the support of the Arctic Inspiration Prize and the guidance of the community in Yukon, we will be able to continue to build programs driven by community needs and values. We are feeling humbled to have won for this prize, and to stand alongside community leaders and innovators from across the North.

Rivers to Ridges co-founders Emily Payne and Erin Nicolardi

Quick facts 
  • Ten projects from Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut were shortlisted for the 2017 awards. Of these, two were finalists for a $1 million prize. Up to 10 prizes with awards totalling $3 million are presented annually to support the winning programs and teams.

  • The Government of Yukon is a supporter of the Arctic Inspiration Prize and contributes to the fund.

  • The 7th annual Arctic Inspiration Prize Ceremony will be held at the Yukon Arts Centre in Whitehorse in February, 2019 in partnership with the Arctic Indigenous Investment Conference.

Media contact 

Sunny Patch
Cabinet Communications

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