Climate change is causing increasing challenges for Inuit communities across the North, with disruptions to livelihoods, cultural activities, and health and wellness. Finding ways to proactively adapt to the effects of climate change, while fostering resilience, has become an increasing priority. Youth have been identified as particularly susceptible to the effects of climate change, and ensuring youth have opportunities to connect with culture and community is both desired and necessary.
In response to this need, the Rigolet Inuit Community Government is leading a new initiative in Rigolet, Makkovik, and Postville, Nunatsiavut: The ILIKKUSET-ILINGANNET!/ CULTURE-CONNECT! program!
This program provides the opportunity for Inuit youth to work with adult role models to learn cultural skills, such as hunting, trapping, fur preparation, sewing, art, music, food preparation, and snowshoe making.
There are 5 youth participants and 5 adult mentors in each community in this pilot program. Each mentor is hired to provide mentorship in one skill to all five youth. Mentors and youth spend approximately 3 to 5 hours per week together, for 20 weeks. Mentors spend approximately 4 weeks with each youth, meeting regularly, to learn skills, spend time together, and develop relationships.
In total, in the first year of the program, youth and mentors spent 2,250 contact hours together through formal activities, and many more hours together through informal learning and gatherings.
During the mentorship activities, youth document their experiences through photography and video. At the end of the project, all the youth involved in the Culture-Connect! program gathered in Rigolet for a participatory video workshop, where they created a group video about their experiences in the program.
This project is funded by Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, with complementary funding from the Nasivvik Centre for Inuit Health and Changing Environments. This project is led by the Rigolet Inuit Community Government, in partnership with the communities of Makkovik and Postville, and the Department of Health and Social Development.