Photo: Students on Ice
The future of the North will be determined by the choices, aspirations, and priorities of its youth. The Youth Perspectives Series is a publishing platform for students to voice their opinions, share their experiences, and influence the debate about their homeland. The forum features articles, videos, illustrations, poems, and multimedia projects created by youth living in the Arctic on the issues that matter to them most. Hosted by The Arctic Institute (TAI), Youth Perspectives is produced in partnership with Students on Ice, Arctic Youth Ambassadors, and the Arctic Adaptation Exchange. The installment below is the second of many throughout 2016 that will be featured on the TAI’s forthcoming new website.
If you are a student living in the Arctic and are interested in publishing with us, or if your organization would like to partner with or sponsor Youth Perspectives, please contact our Managing Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Canadian Arctic-what a spectacular place to be. You can see white for hundreds of kilometers. However, there is one thing that I can’t wrap my head around. I see Inuit youth… smoking up. I see Inuit youth… dropping out. I wish I was making this up, but in most cases, it’s a reality.
What could you do about these issues in the Arctic? Surely, you could talk to them, right? Well, it’s not that easy. Inuit youth (and even their parents) sometimes have a hard time coping with their problems. Every time I try to ask them what’s wrong, they just turn their heads and seclude themselves with their headphones. This stereotype is something that I want to change in the Arctic. I don’t want to see any more of Inuit making a bad image to the media. I’ve seen countless web articles talking about nothing but bad things about the Inuit culture. If this continues in the future, nothing will change. That’s why I want more youth to be involved in being a voice in the Arctic.
Now, trying to break a habit that’s been going on for the past 50 years or so is definitely going to be very difficult, but with motivation and a goal, Inuit youth CAN make a difference. Throughout my entire life, I’ve watched my fellow classmates underachieve. I’m sorry to say that I’ve become accustomed to it. At one point, I felt like doing the same, but no, this is not how it’s going to go. Clearly, a lot of Inuit went through tough times due to Residential Schools, colonialism, and so on, and if we want to break the silence and turn over to a new (and hopefully better) lifestyle, we have to take action.
One of the things that we can do is to show the Inuit youth what a wonderful world Earth is. For example, I’ve been to Students On Ice. It’s an expedition that involves youth from all around the world exploring the Arctic and Antarctic, and that opened my eyes and expanded my knowledge on how diverse and amazing this place is. I’m saying this because too many Inuit don’t have the opportunity to travel. It’s just too darn expensive to leave our remote communities. If they stay in their communities for their whole lives, they won’t see the rich culture and vast diversity that other places offer.
So, now what? Are we going to have to subsidize plane tickets? Or ask Mr. Trudeau to fund more into remote Inuit communities? Well, there are definitely a lot of possibilities on what we could do. But, that shouldn’t discourage us to come up with a plan to make the Canadian North a happy place. Obviously, there is a lot more to making places like Pond Inlet a better place, but taking it one step at a time is a start. I emphasize Inuit youth because they ARE the future. Our lovely elders aren’t going to be with us forever.
I believe that Inuit (especially the youth) have the potential to lead and create a better future for themselves. I grew up watching Inuit youth underachieve. That’s why I highly encourage Inuit to not just make a New Year’s resolution, but a life resolution: to make sure that the next generation have more and better opportunities. If we work together, we can decrease the smell of marijuana in our streets, decrease the amount of negativity in our hearts, and increase the amount of smiles on people’s faces.
Justin Milton is 16 years old and has lived in Pond Inlet for his entire life. He has just finished Grade 11 and on his my way to finishing high school next year. His hobbies include, but aren’t limited to: hanging out with friends, playing fiddle, using his computer, and playing video games. He is an introvert who likes to be challenged with critical thinking and tend to excel at essays. He is, what you could see, as a “left-brained” person. During his free time, he like to visit friends and occasionally play video-games together.