What is the NIYC?
Across the Canadian Arctic, there are four Inuit regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR), Nunavut, Nunavik (Northern Quebec) and Nunatsiavut (Labrador). Inuit Nunangat (Inuit homelands) have an estimated 55,000 Inuit living in 53 communities. Inuit youth make up a clear majority of the overall population.
The National Inuit Youth Council (NIYC) represents the interests of Inuit youth in Canada. The council is made up of six voting members and 1 president. The president is voted in by the memeber on a 2 year term every second June. There are 6 regional youth file holders, employed by the respective land claims organizations that sit on the NIYC as the voting members. The Youth Project Coordinator(s) of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), our parent organization, serve as the secretariet for the NIYC.
Qikiqtaani Inuit Association: Thomas Anguti Johnston, Acting President (Nunavut)
Kitikmeot Inuit Association: Sarah Jancke (Nunavut)
Kivalliq Inuit Association: Eugene Kabluitok (Nunavut)
Makivik Corporation (Saputiit Youth Assoc): Elizabeth Annahatak (Nunavik)
Inuvialuit Regional Corporation: John Stuart Jr. (ISR)
Nunatsiavut Government: Sandra Dicker (Nunatsiavut)
The first NIYS was held in Kuujjuaq, Quebec in November of 1994. Along with the formation and election of the first board, 13 resolutions were passed on a variety of issues, including education, justice, recreation, youth camps, communication, Inuit youth well-being, youth participation in Inuit organizations, codes of conduct for Inuit organization and Inuit participation in United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
A new executive was elected during the next NIYC summit, which was held in February, 1997 in Iqaluit, NU. The main discussion item was the question of whether the National Inuit Youth Council should continue to exist. There was a strong support of NIYC’s continued existence and it was reaffirmed that the NIYC takes it direction from regions and communities.
The NIYC met again as a working group in Cambridge Bay, NU in January, 2000 to set out their scope in improving communications and reporting methods; brainstorming for the National Inuit Youth Newsletter as well as an Inuit Youth web site. The NIYC also discussed Youth Centres in Inuit communities and awarded regional elders on their contributions and dedication to youth developments.
In February, 2002, the NIYC hosted a summit in Inuvik, NWT and adopted the following as their top priorities for action:
- Language and culture
- Education and training
- Inuusiqatsiarniq / Suicide Prevention
In 2003, the National Inuit Youth Suicide Prevention Framework (NIYSPF) was undertaken and released, including a set of recommendations for action. ITK and the NIYC have since been working together with partners on the implementation of these recommendations and taking direction from Inuit youth on the issue of suicide prevention.
Over 100 Inuit gathered in Inukjuak, Nunavik for the National Inuit Elders and Youth Conference in March 2003. They celebrated Inuit culture and discussed topics such as traditional healing and shamanism, climate change, Inuktitut language, parenting skills, educational directions, economy, amongst others.
Nain, Labrador hosted the NIYS in March of 2005. Elder and youth delegates expressed their dreams, thoughts and feelings and provided further direction for the NIYC and Inuit youth. The summit was an opportunity to bring Inuit youth and elders together, which enabled them to share information and ideas and rekindle motivation and activity at the local level while building on regional and national partnerships.
In March 2007, the NIYC held a National Inuit Elders and Youth Summit (NIEYS) in Qamani’tuaq, Nunavut. A new NIYC president was elected. It was decided that two elders would serve as advisors to the NIYC Board with ex-officio status for a one-year term.
The most recent NIEYS was held in August 2010 in Inuvik, NWT. Over 70 youth participated in workshops and discussions of importance to Inuit youth and elders. The participants identified issues by region and established five national priorities:
- Language and Culture (advocating, preserving, promoting, building pride)
- Health and Education (Mental, Health)
- Networking & Communication between Regions (Within and between Inuit regions)
- Funding Support (The national, regional, and local initiatives)
- Lack of Housing
Monthly teleconferences are held to keep communications open, exchange ideas, share information on resources and opportunities and guide NIYC projects and activities. In person meetings are held on an as need basis.
The NIYC also sits on a number of National committees, giving youth input on related issues. These include the National Inuit Climate Change Committee (NICCC), Alianait (Inuit Specifit Mental Wellness Task Group), Inuit Knowlege Centre National Committee (IKCNC), and the National Inuit Committee on Health (NICoH).
NIYC’s website gives Inuit youth and other visitors a chance to connect, raise awarness and share news and opportunities. The NIYC is now connected to youth across the country using social media tools such as Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/National-Inuit-Youth-Council/332933250073292) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/InuitYouth)