A new generation of Arctic leaders, from left Ashley Rae Carvill, Kristen Tanche and Megan Dicker Nochasak
Toronto Star: “The Arctic affects us all,” explained Gov. Gen. Mary Simon in Finland last year, “and what happens here has far-reaching consequences for the world.”
The Arctic is changing. Challenges — including climate change — require emerging leaders in leadership roles. However, across the Arctic, youth are moving away from their homes.
The voices of emerging leaders must be central to debates about the Arctic’s future. We have ideas and need political action.
We are emerging leaders from Canada’s North. We recently came together with our peers from Arctic Indigenous and local communities across Alaska, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Sápmi at an Arctic Policy Hackathon in Reykjavík. Our perspectives and experiences informed policy recommendations on keeping our next generations of leaders in the Arctic.
Our future depends on young people in the whole region taking on leadership roles. The next generation must guide the development of the Arctic sustainably so that we respect and honour existing natural and cultural values, while creating opportunities and contributing to solving the biggest challenges facing our societies and the world. We believe that diversity and inclusion are the cornerstones to keeping and recruiting the next generation of leaders in the Arctic.
We live in the Arctic because of our traditional and professional livelihoods, and culture. We want to live in areas where we can practice and be immersed in our culture and share it with others. We feel a connection to community, family and our ancestors.
We feel immense emotions about the North, a place where we feel seen and that is an integral part of our identity. We are proud of being Northerners and feel responsibility for the North that is rooted in the continuation of practicing and sharing Arctic and Indigenous cultures. The Arctic is where we are motivated to make change and feel that we have room to grow. This is our home where we want to live, create, and exist.
The Arctic is facing colonization, oppression of language and culture, exploitation of natural resources and depopulation. These issues largely result from decisions made outside the Arctic without our participation or consent. This must change and we, the young leaders and Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic, must own our own future. We will create an attractive region for all, with an abundance of opportunities and the fundamentals for living good and rewarding lives.
Our policy recommendations provide empowering solutions focused on the self-determination of Arctic leaders. After two days of deliberations, we concluded that the foundation for building the next generation of Arctic leaders must be culture and community, sustainable development, and holistic wellness.
Fostering an Arctic that promotes culture and community means recognizing cultural pursuits (fisheries, art, hunting, handicraft, reindeer herding) as valuable and respectable livelihoods equal to higher education.
It includes employers having succession plans with mentorship and training opportunities for Indigenous and Arctic youth, with the goal of attaining employment, retention and inclusion. Furthermore, a focus on diversity and inclusion would address youth migrating to seek acceptance and safety in urban areas.
Creating opportunities for sustainable development means transparent decision-making, as construction and large projects affect many different groups that sometimes get forgotten.
We also need local ownership alongside youth and Indigenous involvement. This will ensure that value generated by industry stays within the community and is reinvested locally.
In addition, there is a greater opportunity for community driven Arctic research, development, innovation and growth while tourism must be safe and welcoming.
Creating an Arctic that supports holistic wellness involves allocating long-term, sustainable funds determined by and for each community to create holistic, wraparound health services. Creating more training opportunities for educators in the Arctic will increase the quality of education.
Climate change disproportionately impacts Arctic peoples, particularly Indigenous livelihoods and cultures. Support and adequate subsidization of innovative, community-led climate change adaptations can support economic diversification.
Building on existing expertise in the region and wielding our natural resources can make green policy and technologies a major export of the High North.
We know how to keep next generation leaders in the Arctic. We need political action to secure our future — for Arctic communities, our young leaders, and the world.
ASHLEY RAE CARVILL WAS BORN INTO A FAMILY OF LEADERS WITHIN THE CARCROSS/TAGISH FIRST NATION. SHE RESIDES IN THE YUKON AND WORKS FOR HER FIRST NATION AS IMPLEMENTATION MANAGER.
KRISTEN TANCHE IS LIID LII KUE FIRST NATION, FROM THE DEHCHO REGION OF THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIES. SHE CURRENTLY WORKS FOR DEHCHO FIRST NATIONS AS THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF HEALTH AND WELLNESS.
MEGAN DICKER NOCHASAK IS AN INUK YOUTH FROM NAIN, NUNATSIAVUT, LABRADOR. SHE IS CURRENTLY STUDYING SOCIOLOGY AT CARLETON UNIVERSITY AND STARTING PART-TIME WORK WITH THE YELLOWHEAD INSTITUTE.