As the Vancouver Aquarium’s director of Arctic Programs, I’ve had the privilege of visiting many of Canada’s northern most communities and forging strong relationships with the people there. Consider it a perk of the job. Rarely do I have the pleasure of hosting some of Canada’s most northern residents here in southern Canada but Saturday, October 18 will be one of those times.

In just over a week, we’ll be sitting in the Aquarium’s Arctic gallery discussing an often overlooked perspective on the North — that of Inuit youth. We call it a Café Scientifique, and it will be a dialogue about the changing Arctic with scientists and researchers like
Dr. Valeria Vergara and four youth from the communities of Gjoa Haven and Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Additional Cafés with these Inuit youth will be held the following week by the Telus World of Science in Edmonton and the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa.

We’re also bringing these youth south as just one part of Ikaarvik, our program in partnership with Arctic communities, the Canadian Rangers Ocean Watch research project and other zoos, aquariums, and science centres across Canada. Funded by the 2013 Arctic Inspiration Prize, Ikaarvik identifies young, emerging Inuit leaders with the interest, drive and motivation to become leaders in their communities. Then we help them create stronger connections between their communities and western science, and with institutions like zoos and aquariums that help shape southern Canadians’ understanding of the north.

Arctic Connections Youth Program, Vancouver Aquarium

Emerging Inuit youth leaders come together to connect with southern Canadians.

In addition to providing their perspectives in our Café Scientifique, the four Inuit leaders, Gina, Brett, Presley, and Mia will review and critique our Arctic exhibits and programs and speak with Aquarium visitors in the gallery. They’ll learn about southern Canadians’ views of the Arctic and we’ll hear their perspectives.

They say the young will inherit the Earth someday. But to say so diminishes the value of youth opinions today. Over half of Nunavummiut are under the age of 25. The young are inheriting the Earth today and their perspectives matter now, not just in the future. We’re listening.

Guests of the Vancouver Aquarium are invited to join in the dialogue starting at 12:30 p.m. on October 18. Share your insights and discoveries on twitter with #ArcticDialogue.

This event is part of the Science in Canada’s North Café Scientifique Series. The Vancouver Aquarium gratefully acknowledges the support of the W. Garfield Weston Foundation and the Canadian Association of Science Centres for their support of this event.

Blog post submitted by Eric Solomon, director of Arctic Programs for the Vancouver Aquarium. 

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