Starting in 2016, and every year since, the Ayalik Fund has sponsored several youths to participate in the various programs offered by Northern Youth Leadership, a Yellowknife based organization which seeks to inspire confidence in youth, to develop the inner and outer resources needed to overcome challenges, reach their full potential, and create positive change in their communities. NYL serves the NWT community but generously makes space available to youths from Nunavut. Each year offers new opportunities of camps, canoe trips, and a youth forum out on the land, always with a traditional knowledge component layered onto the experience of being part of a team, making new friends, having new experiences.
Eric paddled with a group of boys for an 8-day canoe trip on the North Arm of Great Slave Lake. They fished, and swam, and picked berries, played games and cooked, endured some bad weather, and laughed together – all part of learning to work in a group.
Jill participated in a traditional skills wilderness camp program in the remote and scenic Mackenzie Mountains, west of Norman Wells, NWT, where she joined a group of Dene and Inuvialuit girls for eight days of camping, hiking, canoeing, swimming, learning traditional land skills from elders, and so much more. During discussion groups, they talked about sexual health, consent, bullying, and other important issues for young teenagers. During camp, each girl sewed a pair of traditional Dene rabbit fur mitts.
Kyla attended a March camp with Dene and Inuvialuit girls from across NWT. During their week in camp, the girls enjoyed a full program of new exciting activities: fishing through the ice (with great success!), preparation of traditional medicines, ptarmigan hunting, preparation of caribou skins, beading, cross-country skiing (with former Olympian Sharon Firth), traditional games, yoga, snowshoeing, and evenings of personal exploration through group discussion around the campfire.