Video contest aims to give Northern youth a voice

Video contest aims to give Northern youth a voice
ACYF’s David Akoak Jr. and Emily Rees work on the Playing to Strengths presentation to give to youth in the Yukon, Nunavut and the NWT.Photo: ACYF.

A video contest launched by an Arctic children’s foundation has organizers hoping the medium will help youth open up about social issues in their communities.

If youth in the Canadian Arctic are encouraged to share their stories, perhaps solutions can be found to common concerns, said organizer Kylie Aglukark, executive director of the Arctic Children and Youth Foundation (ACYF), the charitable foundation behind the contest.

Aglukark said video is a popular and now easily accessible way for youth to express themselves.

“We figured this was something that the youth are in tune with, you know, YouTube and such. Now youth are so big into technology,” she said. “They can use cellphones, iPads, any technology today.”

Open to youth aged 14-24 from the NWT, Yukon, Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut, the contest asks participants to produce and submit short videos under five minutes addressing a topic that affects them growing up North of 60.

“From the Yukon right over to Nunatsiavut, we want them to be engaged with each other to see what’s happening in other regions and other communities and for them to try and work towards change and maybe better programs and policies,” Aglukark said.

Some common concerns the foundation has been flagging in the North include high suicide rates among teens and poor access to education.

“But it’s not all negative issues,” Aglukark said, encouraging submissions to highlight successful initiatives in their communities, as well.

All video submissions will be posted to the foundation’s recently launched online discussion forum called Playing to Strengths.

The forum was created last year as an outreach project targeting youth who are already heavily engaged online through social media, Aglukark said. While the forum has had a lot of online views since launching, there have not been many contributors thus far.

“We really want them to know that this is a place for them to go. Somewhere that is safe, where they are not going to be judged. And if they are talking and they need some sort of guidance or help, we have people available to do that,” she said.

As an incentive, the contest winners will receive cash prizes of $300 for first, $200 for second and $100 for third place.

The ACYF as a non-profit was created in 2003 under the Income Tax Act of Canada. The organization was formerly based in Ottawa, but opened up an office in Iqaluit last summer.

Information collected from the video contest and discussion board project will contribute to research papers that will eventually end up in the hands of the federal government, Aglukark said.

“It’s about letting the government know that youth do want to have input in the areas of policy,” she said. “It’s to allow the youth to have a voice in their future.”

The contest closes Mar. 1. For full contest rules and regulations, go to http://www.acyf.ca/video_contest.html

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