Northern Youth Leadership (NYL) brings together youth from across the Northwest Territories for remote on the land camps in our spectacular territory.
NYL camps facilitate the development of leadership skills, inspire confidence, and help youth develop the inner and outer resources needed to overcome challenges, reach their full potential, and create positive change in their communities.
NYL was started by two Yellowknifers that experienced first-hand the sense of accomplishment and confidence that comes from stepping outside of your comfort zone and realizing a goal. They wanted to share this transformational experience with youth from across the NWT and started Northern Youth Leadership (formerly Taiga Camp). NYL continues this legacy by offering a diverse range of unique and innovative programming for youth.
Last year, NYL hosted the following camps:
Gana River Boys Leadership Camp: an 8-day camp in the Mackenzie Mountains for boys aged 11 – 13. The boys hiked, fished, swam, canoed, and learned survival and traditional skills.
Girls Advanced Leadership Canoe Camp: an 11-day paddle for girls aged 13 – 16. The girls paddled 130km along the North Arm of Great Slave Lake from Behchokǫ to Yellowknife.
Leadership through the Drum Camp: a 7-day traditional Dene drum-making workshop for boys aged 13 – 16 in Fort Simpson.
Girls Spring Leadership Camp: a 7-day camp in Dettah for girls aged 13 – 16. Girls learned to cross-country ski with Sharon Firth, worked on Reindeer hides, made spruce gum salve, and participated in traditional survival and cultural activities.
Northern Youth Leadership is a project on Tides Canada’s Shared Platform, which supports on-the-ground efforts to create uncommon solutions for the common good. Tides Canada is a national Canadian charity dedicated to a healthy environment, social equity, and economic prosperity. The Shared Platform provides governance, human resources, financial, and grant management for leading environmental and social projects across Canada, allowing projects to more effectively achieve their missions.
For further information on NYL, our programs or to get involved as a participant, sponsor or team member – please contact us.
Ali spent her childhood running around outside and camping with her family in British Columbia. After four years exploring the Beaufort Delta, she moved to Yellowknife to experience more of this beautiful territory. An advocate for on-the-land programming, Ali has witnessed first hand how youth transform and grow during remote wilderness programming. The Project Director position with NYL is a great opportunity for her to apply her skills in non-profit management and youth work to a powerful project inspiring the next generation of northern leaders and helping youth challenge their self-imposed limitations.
Goliah was born and raised in the North. Growing up she lived a sustainable life on the land with her family where she learned cultural knowledge and survival skills. Goliah has traveled to remote communities all through the Canadian North and Greenland with Students on Ice to learn about environmental and cultural sustainability. Her passion for on the land leadership programming for youth has stemmed from her experience as a youth participant with Northern Youth Leadership and she’s eager to share her experience with other youth.
David Brinston is a student at the University of Alberta studying Psychology and Biological Sciences. He moved to the North when he was 5yrs old and has been here ever since. David loves being outdoors and spends his free time fishing, hiking and canoeing. Facilitating on-the-land programming for youth is a dream job for David and his positive energy and commitment to youth make him a perfect fit for NYL.
Chloe Dragon Smith is a Chipewyan-European-Metis woman from Yellowknife. Her wild northern upbringing shaped her values today. Chloe holds a degree in Earth Science from the University of Victoria; however, while educated in science, she has found her niche in working with people – mainly on the social and cultural benefits of the natural world. She cares about the intersection between nature, culture, and modern society. Chloe has previously been a leader for NYL, and she is a big supporter of any organization that gets people outdoors! She sees a lot of potential with NYL and feels very lucky to be part of such a great group.
Attracted by the people she met in a high school exchange to Kimmirut, NU and captivated by the challenges of the North, Leanne moved to the NWT to work with a not-for-profit organization helping to reduce the costs and environmental impacts of energy in the NWT. She joined the steering committee in 2014 after having just come back from a 3 month wilderness trip in which she paddled for 2 months from Behchoko to Kugluktuk and then hiked onwards to Paulatuk. Thinking they were all alone after paddling straight North from Behchoko for 4 weeks, they met a group of 8 young men out on the land that had paddled the same route from Behchoko. These young men were part of a high school camp that after several years of courses and shorter trips had culminated in a 6 week paddle in the Northwest Territories. They were growing and learning at an incredible pace. The few short hours with them was one of the most powerful and moving moments of the trip and she vowed to find out what was in place close to home for youth on-the-land experiences.
Leanne is fully convinced that the work that NYL is doing is bringing the type of learning to young people of the North that she saw that summer and hopes that being on the land is as powerful to the youth involved as it is to her. She is an avid lover of the wilderness, living off-grid and off-road and almost annually partaking on multi-month wilderness trips. This is an amazing place to learn about ourselves and each other and the Northern Youth experience is helping in a small way achieve the goal of enabling youth to be resilient leaders in their community.
Born and raised in Inuvik before moving to Yellowknife as a teenager, from a very young age Gilly was resolved to turn her love of nature into a career. One of the disproportionate number of northern students who do not finish high school, she found herself as a young adult with a grade ten education and lacking the confidence and knowledge of how to begin navigating towards her aspirations. Instead, she spent several years carving out her own space in the north as a youth outreach worker, spearheading community-based suicide intervention programs and promoting mental health programming.
During a guided hike hosted by a University of Alberta professor, a spark was lit. Inspired by his effortless ability to interpret the wilderness as an interactive story, she applied for entry into a field naturalist college program. Her college marks propelled her into university and away towards a degree in science she went. From collecting grizzly bear hair on the tundra to working on wildlife disease research projects in the South Slave, she’s found her niche working on the land.
Gilly believes strongly that without a few key people in her life to cultivate leadership and a sense of capacity, she wouldn’t be where she is today. She was drawn to NYL first as a youth leader and now as a member of the steering committee in the hope that she can be a part of someone else’s spark. In her spare time, Gilly plays roller derby, travels and spends as much time as possible in the wilderness. Now a resident of the Sahtu, she is right at home living once again on the bank of the Mackenzie River.
Shannon moved to Inuvik, NT in 1996 to work with the Gwich’in Tribal Council after completing a masters in Natural Resources Management from the University of Manitoba, and has not looked south since! For the past 18 years, Shannon has built an exemplary reputation working and communicating in a wide variety of northern contexts: from small groups in community settings to addressing senior government officials and industry representatives. Shannon is currently working as a part-time consultant from her home in Yellowknife where she and her husband are raising their two children.
As a mother of two kids who are being educated both in school and on the land, and will soon become “northern youth”, Shannon has chosen to devote her energy, enthusiasm and knowledge to help support the goal of promoting and inspiring the next generation of young northern leaders. Shannon brings a variety of skills to Northern Youth including over 10 years experience both serving and sitting on a variety of boards in the public and volunteer sectors. Shannon also brings experience in project and team management, organizational development, plain language writing, communications and media relations. As a new director to Northern Youth, Shannon looks forward to learning from and working with this fabulous team of folks!
Laurie’s love of the wild lured her to the Northwest Territories as northern correspondent for the Edmonton Journal. Enchanted by the landscapes, the people and the abundance of the natural world, she quickly laid down roots, marrying and moving to an off-grid, lakeside home outside of Yellowknife. Raising three sons in this setting – where electronics were largely banned due to power and internet restraints – reinforced her belief that healthy pursuits in the great outdoors are the best way to build relationships and connections to the world around us…as exemplified by the intricate, traditional lifestyles of the North’s Indigenous peoples. Laurie worked several years at CBC North, freelanced in magazine writing and film production, and now edits the popular EDGE YK magazine. Throughout her journalism career she has focused on issues of social justice and the environment. She served on the NWT Minister’s Forum on Addictions and Community Wellness and is interested in programming that helps strengthen healthy, sustainable communities. She sees the Northern Youth steering committee as an exciting extension of this work.