Anchorage, AK – The participants in the Arctic Resilient Communities Youth Fellowship (ARCYF) first set of in‐person meetings and workshops have declared the week‐long event a success in meeting the program’s initial goals.
Announced in January 2023 and organized as a nine‐month fellowship, ARCYF is designed to empower Arctic youth from Alaska, Canada, and Greenland to serve a direct role in sustainable development and to explore new approaches for building resilient Arctic communities. With an age range of 18 to 30, the fellows collaborate with diverse experts in Arctic subjects to build on their existing knowledge and develop the tools necessary to help lead their home communities and regions into the future.
The fellows met with a wide range of experts and leaders from across the Arctic, including foreign ministers, ambassadors, Indigenous knowledge holders, and business leaders. Activities occurred concurrently with the Arctic Encounter Symposium; the largest Arctic policy event held in the United States.
The week’s highlights included youth panel sessions at AES, and meetings with other Arctic Youth groups. Alaska’s senior U.S. Senator, Lisa Murkowski, spent more than an hour meeting with the fellows and other youth representatives to discuss the importance of advocating for the Arctic and involving youth in decision‐making.
“I was happy to meet with this group of young leaders from across the Arctic. As the dynamics of the region continue to change, it’s going to take engaged leaders to work together to find solutions for the Arctic’s greatest challenges and opportunities,” Sen. Murkowski said. “With this group’s innovative ideas, the future of the Arctic is bright. This dialogue left me optimistic, and I look forward to seeing these youth fellows pursue their education and careers and translate their ideas into policy solutions.”
The first two‐days were filled with skill‐building activities and educational excursions to Alaska Pacific University (APU), the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), and the Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC). Fellows then engaged with other youth organizations at the Arctic Youth Forum hosted by the Nana Regional Corporation, where they developed pitches on policy ideas that they shared with policy makers at AES. Emphasizing the importance of youth in decision making, Joshua Atghaghvik Cannon, ARCYF 2023 Fellow said, “it’s not just about us talking to policy makers, it’s about us working with policy makers.”
Through regular virtual seminars and in‐person workshops over the next several months, the fellows will apply what they are learning and build their leadership skills as they design and implement individual community projects to enhance resiliency and self‐determination. The Alaska Workshop acted as a logistical and agenda primer for additional in‐person gatherings scheduled for later this summer and early fall.
The travelers from remote parts of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska have all returned to their homes, concluding an inspiring, and occasionally challenging visit to Alaska’s largest city. Reflecting on the Alaska, ARCYF Fellow, Nivi Rosing said, “the trip to Alaska really allowed me to connect meaningfully with likeminded passionate youth from the Arctic and I feel so much more hopeful of Indigenous involvement in policy making in the Arctic. It also really allowed me to practice my leadership skills which I really appreciate, I look forward to meeting the other fellows once again for our Canada trip!”
ARCYF builds strategically on the results of the Arctic Council’s Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) working group’s Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Arctic Mining (MBAM) initiative. ARCYF was initiated, and is being implemented, by Institute of the North and North Star Group in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and with support from Global Affairs Canada, Greenland School of Minerals and Petroleum and the Denali Commission.
This fellowship is made possible thanks to initial investments by Global Affairs Canada and the Denali Commission. “We are excited to apply the lessons learned from the Alaska Workshop as we plan the next in‐person gatherings in Greenland and Canada. We are so grateful to have support from local Alaska businesses and organizations to help make the March workshop a success and welcome additional partners as we move forward.” said Francesca Bray, ARCYF project coordinator. Those interested in joining this unique partnership, speaking at one of our seminars, or assisting fellows with their personal projects are invited to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.