I’ve been fervently involved with social justice back in high school, and now I’m a software engineer.
Where a typical day for me entails writing code and debugging stack traces on my laptop, I realize it has been years since I’ve debated about policy and politics. The main driver for me to attend this conference is to extend the influence of the web and rising technologies— think watching a cat video on Facebook: the video often breaks halfway and interjects with a 15-second ad that often you have to bear through and stare, so you can switch back to see how the furry ball stretches on the carpet.
Now imagine if the 15-second ad was replaced by an awareness or a call-to-action about climate change or lifestyle change— topics that calls for a strong sense of urgency. Although these videos doesn’t guarantee actions in all its viewers, but the awareness of such issues— may it be conscious or unconscious— will at least trigger some type of reactions.
Going in with an open mind, I had the goal of making the solution to these issues scalable by incorporating technologies. With the wonderful planning by SOI, the other SOI delegates were able to gather together and discuss visions and what each of us wanted to achieve. Upon knowing more about each other, I was absolutely impressed by our small cohort of representatives— our profiles compose of a meticulous planner from Parks Canada, a thoughtful nurse from Nunavut, a passionate marine biologist from Mexico, an aspiring accountant from Nunatsiavut, a policy activist studying in Alaska, a rising psychology academic, and a software engineer who’s worked on applications serving millions of users.
Whether it was the story told by the elders, the hi-tech research conducted by scientists, or the movement towards more inclusive policies by the policy— the conference itself shook us to our core. It was one of its kind in terms of bringing policy, science, and the indigenous community to literally one room. The structure of the talks— in which all attendees culminate in one large presentation hall— allowed us the attendees to be on the same page. It was a fascinating way of planning because it echoes the essence of the arctic future— that we need to all be on the same page sharing the same vision.
The talks that ensued one another spiralled a turbulence of emotions in me: I was moved. I was angry. I was inspired. And it left me with one crucial question: what can I do as an individual, especially as a youth, to contribute?
Like many alumni and people who are involved in industries that are seemingly distant from the Arctic, I have great tools at my fingertip that can cause waves of action that are not achievable by political campaigns alone.
For instance, with my software background, I can easily spin up a program that automatically sends personalized emails to news and media. Whereas the mere task of addressing each recipient in the header would already take days of manual work— and inevitably prone to accidentally addressing Mr. Smith as Mr. Green— the programmatic method guarantees efficiency and accuracy.
So here would be my call to action: if you are not directly involved with any Arctic or environmental organizations, but would love to contribute back to the community, reach out and offer your skillsets.