Educate the North, educate the South, & empower youth.

Photo from the Youth Arctic Coalition

Photo from the Youth Arctic Coalition

The arctic, however foreign it seems to most of us, is populated with a diverse population in North America, Europe, and Asia. It is something Southerners (I include myself in this) often forget. At the Youth Arctic Coalition's (YAC) inaugural conference on Arctic issues, youth from around the world have come together virtually to discuss, record, and propose solutions on arctic issues from around the world. 

I am attending the central hub of this conference in Ottawa, Ontario, along with approximately 75 young people representing organizations from Northern Canada, Europe, and Asia. An early start immediately brought on an engaging discussion on the role of education about Arctic issues, and what this could mean for YAC.

Immediately, the need to educate the south arose. Conference delegates were exposed to the communication gap between young people from both hemispheres and the Arctic. Delegates were exposed to some interesting proposals - one was to incorporate tourism into education, and the other to insure teachers were given resources to effectively engage classrooms with Arctic issues. The former solution would increase cultural exchange and a physical experience in the North, while the latter focuses on ensuring teachers know how the North operates in order to teach it.

Photo from the Youth Arctic Coalition

Photo from the Youth Arctic Coalition

Teaching Northern issues was also applied to schools within these regions, as they have an identifiable disconnect with southern communities. This discord made it apparent to provide opportunities to learn and exchange ideologies within the Arctic, an area that has unique communities and cultural groups that may not always align with traditional, Western learning. Another solution arose: a call for mentorship across the North. The call mandates that engaged young people have an opportunity to connect and learn together, after which they can share their experiences with their own communities. Community hubs might provide the necessary capacity-building approach between youth across the arctic.

Impressively, the workshop addressed the need to go beyond connecting youth with youth. It was suggested that, through novel forms of education, young people can experience the realms of institutions and politics. Through an active process of learning and doing and interactive learning tools, simulation can be used promote an active understanding of institutions and politics. Most importantly, this empowers young people with practical knowledge and engagement.

What an engaged way break the ice on some key issues in the Arctic, and what a way to start YAC2014!