Thursday, 29 October 2015 17:57

Global Dignity 2015: A week of Art, Belonging and Connectedness in Arviat

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This year marks the eighth year of Global Dignity Events and the the fourth year Arviat students have participated.

Students at John Arnalukjuak High School participate in Global Dignity Day with the support of Cisco Canada's Connected North Program

This year Arviat welcomed back longtime Arviat youth supporter Jennifer Corriero of TakingITGlobal along with Dr. Andrea Breen from the University of Guelph, visiting for the first time. Both are strong supporters of Arviat youth participation in community projects, including the Toronto-based Overcoming Isolation and Deepening Social Connectedness initiative with the Samuel Family Foundation.

After a long day of travelling from Toronto to Arviat, almost missing connections due to a blizzard, we were happy to welcome our friends to the community.

This year's visit builds on many of projects initiated during last year's Global Dignity Day week. Arviat TV youth have been collaborating with TakingITGlobal on projects since 2012 (See this story in Kivalliq News with Carmen Braden). This year, TakingITGlobal became the ecosystem lead for Cisco Canada's Connected North Program (read more in Kivalliq News).

Dr. Andrea Breen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition at the University of Guelph. She is also an Associate Editor at the Journal of Adolescent Research. Dr. Breen's research focuses on the development of identity through story-telling and implications for well-being, resilience and social change; and the use of technology to promote healthy children and families.

Dr. Breen's research is also informed by her applied experiences and several years working at a Children's Mental Health Centre, where she led the development of violence prevention programs in high-needs schools and communities.

Tuesday: School Visits

Our week of adventures started with a visit to the Arviat Community Learning Centre. Part of Nunavut Arctic College, the Arviat CLC delivers three programs this year: Third-year Nunavut Teacher Education Program, in partnership with the University of Regina, first-year Office Administration and the Pathways to Adult Secondary School (PASS) Program for adult learners.

Dr. Andrea Breen talks about resilience and adolescent development with third-year NTEP students.

Photo: Dr. Andrea Breen from the University of Guelph discusses resilience and adolescent development with third-year Nunavut Teacher Education Program students during a visit to the Arviat Community Learning Centre on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015.

Tuesday Night: A visit to Arviat TV

In the evening, everyone met up again at John Arnalukjuak High School for regular meetings with Arviat TV, the Arviat Film Society and their many different projects.

Andrea Breen and Stephen Snowball visit to Arviat Television and the Arviat Film Society

Photo: Welcoming Andrea Breen from the University of Guelph and visiting Nunavut Teacher Education Program instructor Stephen Snowball from Hall Beach.

Jennifer, Shelby and Kesha shared some background about the many community-based film, knowledge mobilization and digital literacy projects Arviat youth are involved with.

Arviat is a strong community for youth participation in arts education, theatre, film and drama programs both in and after school. Programs like the Arviat Leadership Resiliency Program and Arviat Television meetings have been meeting at the school during evenings every week for the last five years.

A visit to Arviat Television and the Arviat Film Society

Photo: Dr. Andrea Breen looks on as the cast and crew of Arviat Television work on segments for their Stories from the Heart project with Arviat TV's Kim Dymond at John Arnalukjuak High School.

The Leadership and Resiliency Program (LRP) is a school and community-based program funded by Public Safety Canada for students 14 to 19 years of age that enhances youths' internal strengths and resiliency while preventing involvement in substance use and violence.

Based on a clinical prevention strategy designed to identify and enhance internal strengths and support the building of positive attitudes, the LRP is designed to:

  • Increase perceptions of competence and self-worth;
  • Improve identification with positive roles;
  • Reduce disciplinary actions in school;
  • Improve communication and refusal skills;
  • Increase knowledge of the negative consequences of substance abuse and violence; and
  • Increase community involvement in promoting the healthy development and value of youth.

The Leadership Resiliency Program (Kivalliq News) classroom was also the site of Arviat's first Global Dignity Day event, back in 2012! (Read more in Kivalliq News and Nunatsiaq News)

Wednesday: Global Dignity Day

“You can come from nothing and build something so wonderful and create an amazing life for yourself and truly find happiness.”
-Ashley Callingbull-Burnham, Mrs. Universe 2015

On Wednesday, October 21, Arviat took part in its fourth Global Dignity Day event! This year, ten schools combined forces to create a 2,000-student strong classroom that stretched from Nova Scotia to Alaska! Headlined by keynote speakers Ashley Callingbull, Mrs. Universe 2015 in Toronto and Emery Rutagonya in Toronto, this year's national event also featured traditional Inuit throat singing with Patricia Kablutsiak from John Arnalukjuak High School and Lois Suluk.

Locations taking part in this year's gathering included Alberta Distance Learning, Queen Elizabeth High and St. Justin Elementary Schools in Edmonton; Vincent Massey Collegiate in Winnipeg, Manitoba; John Arnalukjuak High School in Arviat; Cresent School in Toronto; Joliette High School in Joliette, Quebec; Lockeport Regional High School in Lockeport Nova Scotia, along with Soldotna Prep School in Soldotna, Alaska.

Patricia Kablutsiak from JAHS and Lois Suluk from Arviat Television share a traditional Inuit throat song during Global Dignity Day 2015

Photo: Patricia Kablutsiaq and Lois Suluk share a traditional throat song with 2,000 students from 10 schools across Canada and Alaska at John Arnalukjuak High School during Global Dignity Day. Photo: Dr. Andrea Breen, University of Guelph

Thursday: Food is Belonging - Celebrating Dignity, Connectedness and Life at Nunavut Arctic College

Every community in Nunavut is accessible only by air. It can be very difficult and expensive to reach our communities, so when we have people joining us we try our best to stretch out the experience to maximize our time together.

On Thursday night, students, adults, educators and researchers worked together to create art during the Food is Belonging event held at Nunavut Arctic College's Arviat Community Learning Centre.

Students and Educators joined TakingITGlobal at Nunavut Arctic College

Photo: Youth from Arviat TV and the Arviat Youth Art and Film Group created a delicious meal for almost 50 people on Thursday night.

Sometimes it's just about creating safe and inclusive spaces and having fun together

Youth in Arviat prepared an evening feast and celebration on Thursday October 22nd. The event, which drew more than 40 participants, saw everyone enjoying healthy, home-made food and creative activities including beading bracelets, painting, colouring and showcasing each other's artistic talents.

Community at the Community Learning Centre

Throughout the evening youth, educators and researchers were encouraged to talk about the future of community-based research in Nunavut and their visions for the future. The community has been active for more than five years in promoting opportunities for youth engagement through the use of participatory action research, arts education and approaches commonly found in social work.

Nunavut Teacher Education Program Instructor Byron White and Arviat TV's Ethan Tassiuk

Photo: Third-year Arviat Nunavut Teacher Education Program Instructor Byron White shares a few moments with Arviat Television's Ethan Tassiuk.

Now 17, Ethan has been participating in Global Dignity Day events, Arviat Television (in partnership with Isuma TV and the Digital Indigenous Democracy Project) and community research projects since he was 13 years old (Kivalliq News). He is currently considering college or university programs in film, performing arts and Inuit studies.

Nunavut Arctic College Office Administration Instructor Tamar Mukjunik takes part in a beading workshop station during the Food is Belonging event at the Arviat CLC.

Nanisiniq Arviat History Project Community Coordinator Tamar Mukjunik, now an instructor with the Arctic College Office Administration Program takes part in a beading workshop station during the Food is Belonging event at the Arviat CLC. Youth worked with Elders to learn how to bead using traditional and modern styles of beading.

Students and Educators joined TakingITGlobal at Nunavut Arctic College

Special guests also included Dr. Zacharias Kunuk, O.C. of Isuma TV's and the Nunavut Independent Television Network along with Arviat Deputy Mayor and Arviat Television co-founder Eric Anoee, Jr.

Dr. Kunuk has long been an advisor, mentor and strong advocate for Inuit youth in Arviat and their participation in film and emerging media projects since 2012, most notably Isuma TV's Digital Indigenous Democracy Project, Arviat Television and the Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage (MICH) Project.

Susie Johnston and Keith Collier

Susie Johnston from John Arnalukjuak High School and Keith Collier from the Hamlet of Arviat.

It was also a pleasure to welcome back researcher and National Geographic Scholar Dylan Clark from McGill University. Dylan, who also works with the Arctic Inspiration Prize, worked with the community and our youth earlier this summer. Based on the success of past arts-based health interventions in the community, he is working with Inuit youth in Arviat to produce a documentary film about research that teaches youth about hunting and land safety.

Students, adults, educators and researchers worked together to create art during the Food is Belonging event held at Nunavut Arctic College's Arviat Community Learning Centre.

Saturday: "Let's do lunch"

Our last day together for our week of activities for Global Dignity 2015 saw people and projects enjoying a great, informal lunch together sharing stories about about our adventures.

Our last lunch together - from Nanisiniq to Connected North

In this photo, we met up with Shelton Nipsar (Arviat TV), Andrea Breen (University of Guelph), Zacharias Kunuk (Isuma TV), Samuel Pauppa (Arviat TV), Jordan Konek (Nanisiniq Arviat History Project, Arviat TV and now with CBC North in Iqaluit), Evano Aggark, Jr. (Arviat TV), Jennifer Corriero (TakingITGlobal, Cisco Canada Connected North) and Jamie Bell (Nunavut Arctic College and Arviat TV).

So many youth, researchers and projects represented in one room at the same time! This year's event was definitely the best yet and we look forward to seeing everyone again next year!

A special thank you from all of us in Arviat

For a week that started off with a blizzard and most of us unsure where we'd end up, the week ended up spending time together with people from almost every project we've worked with over the last five years! Five terrific days of collaboration, co-creation and celebration! Everyone had an incredible time this week!

We express our thanks to Global Dignity Canada, Nunavut Arctic College, the Government of Nunavut Department of Education and Department of Health, John Arnalukjuak High School, Arviat Leadership Resiliency Program, Carleton University's @1125 Living Lab, the University of Guelph, McGill University, Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage (MICH) at York University, Isuma TV, Arviat Television, The Nanisiniq Arviat History Project, Nunavut Teacher Education Program and the University of Regina, Cisco Canada's Connected North Program, TakingITGlobal, Arviat Youth Art and Film Group, the Hamlet of Arviat and the Samuel Family Foundation for their incredible support.

We also thank the hundreds of thousands of students and thousands of educators, teachers and volunteers who made it both possible and unforgettable. We encourage more schools to join in next year!

And that's our look at a week in Arviat.

Students show their beautiful artwork and painted hands during Thursday's Food is Belonging event

Student share their completed artworks and painted hands as they unveil their incredible Global Dignity Day artwork created during Thursday's Food and Belonging event!

Get involved!

For more information on Global Dignity in Canada and how your schools and organizations can participate, visit their website at:

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