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Northern Youth Leadership wants to highlight youth who are showing leadership in their communities by finding creative ways to connect with the land and their culture. Each Wednesday, we will be posting a profile of a youth taking the lead in their community. Youth can be nominated in two ways:

1. You can nominate yourself by emailing [email protected] with your name, age, community, a photo of yourself, and by answering the following questions:

-How are you taking a leadership role in your community?

-What is one new thing that you’ve learned from taking a leadership role?

-Why do you like getting out on the land and/or connecting with your culture?

-What is one thing that you want to say to other northern youth?

2. You can nominate a youth in your community by emailing [email protected] with their name, age, community, a short description of why you are nominating them, and contact information for the youth. If the youth is selected to be featured on NYL’s social media, we will contact the youth directly for consent and additional information.

Each submission will be entered to win a limited edition NYL t-shirt!

Youth Taking the Lead

Lyndon Chiasson

Lyndon is 14 years old and lives in Yellowknife, NT. Here’s how he’s taking the lead:

“I work with my friends to build ramps and jumps at the bike park and make sure they are fun for the older kids but still safe for the little kids.  I like to look after the area to keep it clean and safe. I learned that if I set an example by wearing my helmet and looking after the park then others will follow and do the same. I like to be outside and active and I always feel good when I do. I want to tell other kids to go biking, wear your helmet, clean up after yourselves, and take your headphones out if you are biking on the roads.”

Zackary James White


Zackary is 17 years old and lives in Yellowknife, NT. Here’s how he’s taking the lead:

“Hello!! My name is Zackary James White, I’m 17, from Yellowknife, NWT, and use he/him pronouns! Being only an 11th-grader, I do the best I can to take part in any form of social justice and self-care activism where possible. Growing up fairly sheltered in a privileged household, I was never really exposed to the issues at which engulfed not only millions across the world but to the injustices and mistreatment happening in my very own community. And as I got older and started to become aware of the prejudices and hate surrounding different groups in Yellowknife, I had an urge to do something about it. Now, I’m part of the Youth Advisory Committee at the Tree of Peace, part of my school’s mental health advocacy group — MAGMA, as we call ourselves — as well as our school’s GSA, and taking part in community efforts to advocate for a greener world through organizations like OurTime and pushing for a more inclusive system and society through the Rainbow Coalition — Yellowknife’s LGBTQ2S+ resource and outreach centre.

One of the biggest things that I’ve learned from being a leader is that prejudice is systematically built into each and every one of us and that sometimes the first step in taking action to resolve issues which we have with the world is to look into ourselves. As isolated as I’ve been recent with social distancing and the pandemic, I whole-heartedly miss the spiritual connectedness that I’m able to feel out on the land. And with the absence of being able to experience the quietness, comfort, and blissful content I get out of looking across lakes and large areas of land as balancing my life has prohibited me from doing thus far, I’ve noticed it negatively affect my ability to feel spiritually connected with the land. However, I soon wish to change that. I hope to begin going on walks and even hikes as I’m becoming better able to sort my school and personal life out as of recent.

Lastly, I want youth to know that they aren’t alone. That in or out of their homes that there are people very similar to them. That there are people who can support them in times and need. Because the last thing I’d want is for somebody to feel alone in a world so full of people wanting someone like them in their life.”


Shelby Lucas

Shelby Lucas is 22 years old and lives in Sachs Harbour, NT. Here’s how she’s taking the lead:

“Two years ago I got into politics. I got elected for a number of boards and councils in the community. At the moment I am sitting on the Sachs Harbour Hamlet Council, S.H Recreation Committee, S.H Community Corp, S.H. Hunters and Trappers and S.H Parks Committee, and I am also a Canadian Ranger. I decided to run for all these boards and committees to try to better the community. Once you take a leadership role, people start to look up to you and thank you for all that you’re trying to do for the community. Although, after joining all these boards and committees, you start to see how corrupt the systems are. Our tiny town is forever getting left out from a lot – too much to get into detail. I grew up my whole life going out camping and hunting. Staying connected with your land is like a type of therapy; a therapy that I will continue to use the rest of my life. I want to tell other northern youth to shoot for the stars no matter what! Stay connected with your people and mainly your elders! Learn your culture as much as you can so it can stay with us longer.”

Danielle Rogers

Danielle Rogers is 16 years old and lives in Inuvik, NT. Here’s how she’s taking the lead:

“I am taking a leadership role in my community by showing others that school is important and the sooner you get your work done the closer you are to finishing. One thing that I’ve learned by taking a leadership role is listening to what others have to say and try to understand where they are coming from. I like getting out on the land and connecting with my culture because I think it’s important, it’s a place for healing and not only that learning how our ancestors survived. One thing that I’d like to say to another northern youth is keep working hard, the harder you work the more opportunities you gain.”

Akesha Hardisty-Norwegian

Akesha Hardisty-Norwegian is 18 years old and lives in Fort Simpson, NT. Here’s how she’s taking the lead:

“Sports is something I’m really into, and has also helped shaped me into the leader I am today, from being team captain to coaching a little kid soccer team and helping run practices. I’d like to believe that I’m taking or have a leadership role in my community by encouraging my peers and anyone around me to do their best. Also offering my help anywhere I can, when I can. Another big part I play in being a leader is being a role model, and to help pave the way for other people to be a leader too. What I have learned from being a leader is to embrace change and to not worry so much when things don’t go the way they were planned. Another big thing that I have learned from being a leader was to learn new things, and to have an open mind. I like to connect with my culture because I feel it’s important to do so, and I’d like to keep cultural traditions in my life for as long as I can. Not only because I think it’s important to do so, but because of the feeling one gets when connected, everything feels so wholesome and cleansed. What I would like to say to other northern youth is to not get discouraged about anything, don’t be scared to try new things and to put yourself out there. Also, everyone is capable of doing something great and that anyone can be a leader.”

Jackie, who nominated Akesha, told us, “Akesha has been a leader in our community for years now. She can often be seen taking leadership roles in different aspects of the community. She is a leader in water safety and took the role of Assistant Pool Supervisor and did great. In the sport community she can be seen taking the initiative to help in sport. Akesha often encourages athletes of all ages to play soccer or basketball. In a time when her coach was sick and hospitalized she took the role to continue the soccer program until her coach came back. Akesha leads by example and is a great contributor to Fort Simpson.”

Trina Adanchilla Pauls

Trina Adanchilla Pauls is 15 years old and lives in Whitehorse, Yukon. Here’s how she’s taking the lead:

“Adanchilla is my traditional name which means strong powerful little women. I come from the Tahltan and Tlingit nations. I am a member of the Champagne Aishihik First Nations. I am fifteen years old. I am from Whitehorse, Yukon. I love to learn the different forms of art in my culture, anything from Beading, Ravens Tail Weaving, Carving, Cedar bark weaving, formline, and, drum making. I have been beading for nine years now. I started my own business at twelve called Adanchilla designs. I always get excited to teach people their traditional arts including my family and friends. I enjoy showing people how to bead and make drums because I’ve been doing those since I was a little human. I have a little brother as well, his name is Salix. I’m excited to see him grow so I’ll be able to teach him different teachings as he getting older. I’m a part of a traditional dance group called the Dakhká khwaán Dancers. I’m a youth leader in the dance group as well. I’ve learned how to talk to others and that everybody is different. I’ve learned that people need to be taught differently or need a different perspective. These different examples have taught be how to be patient, caring, positive. Being on the land is a big part of my life especially in the summer. I go to my fish camps every year. I get to see my family and be on my traditional territory. I think being on the land is a part of connecting with my culture. When I’m at my fish camps I get taught traditional teachings, story telling, observing the land and animals, how to be respectful. Being involved in your culture whether you are becoming a leader or just helping out and being present in you culture is so important. I enjoy being a part of the land and learning my culture because it makes me feel good. I also learn so much from my culture and my community. I learn how to have a healthy lifestyle too. It’s so important to learn your culture so the knowledge can get passed down to the next generations.”

Minnie Akeeagok

Minnie Akeeagok is 15 years old and lives in Iqaluit, Nunavut. Here’s how she’s taking the lead:

“I’m taking a leadership role in my community by performing and teaching kids to throat sing. I help my family, friends and anyone within the community with all I can. I am in the school’s leadership program and helping out in the school also in the community. In the class we do things like setting up the stage for assemblies, to going out and hosting an elders tea where our elders meet up, play games, I love helping around with it because you can see their smiles light up the entire room. I’ve learned so much in taking a leadership role, I didn’t want to keep it within the community and thrived to learn more. I’m still learning how to be a better leader by things like Northern Youth, Canadian Student Leadership Conference 2019 held in Abbotsford BC, Jack.org Mental Health Awareness, etc. I enjoy going out on the land because it’s where our ancestors were before us, makes me feel reconnected to them, without them we wouldn’t be able to have what we do today. Being out on the land also helps me visually understand our culture and how we have been strong and still gaining more strength. Performing with the schools choir has also taught me more on our culture by the words used, with traditional and contemporary singing, drumming and throat singing, I feel the voice we have right now is all our ancestors coming back and reliving and speaking with us. For other Northern Youth I would love for you to go out and express yourself, experience all we have and what we once had. Learn about your own and other cultures and that taking risks like these will forever change you for the better and help you realize that you can do what your mind sets you to do, that learning and getting out really makes a difference in life, everything starts with you.”

Ocean Pottle-Shiwak

Ocean Pottle-Shiwak is 16 years old and lives in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut. Here’s how she’s taking the lead:

“I’m taking a leadership role in my community by being involved and prominent in the groups offered here. I am the president of our school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) and Sergeant of the Junior Canadian Ranger patrol here in Rigolet. By being so involved, it recruits people to do the same. One thing that I learned from taking a leadership role is that people express their leadership capabilities in many different ways. This has taught me to be more understanding and observant of others. I think it’s important to get out on the land because some of the things that Inuit practiced a long time ago are being lost with time. People are focussing more on social media and worried about missing out on unimportant things. The culture needs to be practiced in order for it to be passed on. I think one thing I’d say to northern youth is to be more involved, get out of your community, but don’t forget where you came from.”

Hailey Craig

Hailey Craig is 16 years old and lives in Yellowknife. Here’s how she’s taking the lead in her community:

“I am taking a leadership role in my community by raising money for the homeless and senior people. I learned that you don’t have to do big things in order to be a leader, you don’t need to change the world to make a difference. Connecting with my culture is very important to me as it helps me feel connected to the people around me and to my cultural collective identity.”

Hailey wants other youth to know that, “In the time of Coronavirus, it has completely changed the way we live. There are ways for you to stay safe and and still help vulnerable people in your community. I encourage you to find a way to make a difference in someone’s life, whether it be shoveling their walkway, offering to help an elder get their groceries, helping your mom around the house, sewing masks, volunteering for an organized program like your local food bank and meal program, and encouraging others to do the same.”

Mataya Gillis

Mataya Gillis is 16 years old and lives in Inuvik. Here’s how she’s taking the lead in her community:

“I am the co-editor for Nipturuq, a youth-led Inuvialuit magazine. With my role at the magazine, I’m able to talk with a lot of people so I’m getting to learn a lot more about my community and my culture, and more about my family’s history which is really cool! I like to learn about my culture because I love to teach people about it and I hope one day I will represent my people as an MLA or even an MP and everything I learn benefits me. I would say engage more in your community and join and apply for every opportunity! You will not be sorry!”

You can find the first edition of Nipaturuq, Imniarvik, on apple books.