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Two Yukon finalists for Arctic Inspiration Prize

Recovery support program and traditional camp highlighted
A proposed project up for the Arctic Inspiration Prize would see a traditional camp set up at Porter Creek Secondary School. (Yukon News file)

Two Yukon projects are in the running for the 2022 Arctic Inspiration Prize.

The prize’s trust — which will award approximately $3 million to the final winners in February — has announced the eight finalists for the 2022 prize.

In the category for up to $500,000 is the Shäwthän Näzhi: Recovery Support Program in Haines Junction, while N’’tsaÜw Chu’ Kedts’edán Kù Traditional Camp, which would be based at Porter Creek Secondary School in Whitehorse, is named as a finalist in the youth category for up to $100,000.

The Arctic Inspiration Prize is awarded annually to help start projects in the North, recognizing northern innovation and excellence, and encouraging teamwork to make life better in the North.

Winners are selected from three categories: funding for up to $1 million, funding for up to $500,000 and the youth category for up to $100,000.

The Shäwthän Näzhi: Recovery Support Program in Haines Junction is one of three finalists in the $500,000 category, with the other two being a Northwest Territories program that would engage high school students in identifying historical artifacts from stories told by elders, and a Nunavik program to advance Nunavik Inuit self-determination in research.

The Shäwthän Näzhi: Recovery Support Program follows after Yukon mental health agencies have concluded their after-care and recovery support. The program would provide intensive and ongoing after-care support following attendance at treatment programs. The year-long program would blend healing processes and include animal and art therapy, energy and body healing, trauma and attachment therapies, and Indigenous ceremony, traditions and wisdom.

“The three-year support project will include capacity building within the Yukon Indigenous wellness practitioner community, an intensive recovery support program and model sharing combined with train the trainer implementation,” it’s noted.

As Diane Strand, the project’s proponent, explained in a Dec. 29 interview, there’s no after care in place for those returning to the territory from treatment programs Outside.

The Shäwthän Näzhi program began a couple of years ago with a focus on intergenerational trauma, providing support to families through programming directly at Heart Haven Ranch as well as wrap-around services delivered outside of the program, working with the Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN).

The expansion into after-care services for those returning from treatment Outside would be done over a three-year period, beginning with a look at best practices across the country.

Up to 30 mental wellness staff could be trained to deliver programming.

It’s expected initially a total of 12 participants would be selected for the year-long program that would see them spend time at the ranch each month with options for different therapies, counselling and more.

While work is already underway with CYFN to develop the program, Strand said the Arctic Inspiration Prize would help move the plans forward.

“We’re ecstatic,” she said of being nominated for the award.

Meanwhile, Olive Morland of the Yukon First Nations Education Directorate said the plans for a traditional camp at Porter Creek Secondary School would help expand traditional programming at the school with structures and a larger fire pit area that could host up to 100 people.

“They’ve been wanting this for a while now,” Morland said, noting the school hosts a hide camp each year that requires temporary structures to be put in place.

“It’s a lot of work to set up and take down [the temporary structures].”

Having permanent structures on site for events like the hide camp would mean the school is better able to deliver traditional programs.

The structures — traditional dwellings — would be built by students under the guidance of knowledge keepers.

As Morland said, the idea has been simmering in conversations for years, so when the opportunity came up to bring it forward to the Arctic Inspiration Prize, they took the opportunity.

Along with the $500,000 category and $100,000 youth category is the $1-million category with two finalists in that category.

Kulugalak in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut would see a customized language campus built in Cambridge Bay that would include indoor and outdoor cultural activity areas, community-designed cultural production equipment and experimental landscaping that offers free public programming.

The other finalist in that category is the Pilimmaksaijuliriniq Project in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut that would deliver a Inuit-led initiative to build competencies and wellness traditional teachings in various regions in response to the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy, the Inuusivut Anninaqtuq Nunavut Suicide Prevention Strategy and the Alianait Inuit Mental Wellness Action Plan.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
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