Ruth Kaviok of Arviat, Nunavut, left a lasting impression on everyone aboard the Students on Ice 2015 Arctic expedition. Not only was her laugh and enthusiasm contagious, but she also touched many hearts when she delivered a presentation about suicide prevention near the end of the two-week journey.
Most SOI expeditions end with a session where students discuss initiatives they’re involved with back home. So as the ship sailed around the northern tip of Baffin Island, Ruth took centre stage and spoke about the play she acted in which had the goal of sparking conversations about suicide prevention. When asked how she feels she’s made a difference, Ruth responded, “I think the most difference was made when I made the presentation, because after I gave it, I was told by many that I was supported to prevent suicide and bullying.”
Ruth has served as an advocate for education, urging her fellow students to fight for their education and attend school. In 2015 she crafted an inspirational piece titled, “Nunavut Students: Facebook won’t help you graduate” which was posted on the Arviat TV website. Her passion for her culture is evident as well. In her expedition biography she wrote, “I strongly respect my culture and history, so I am always proud to be who I am and where I come from. My ancestors always tried really hard to survive, so I don’t give up easily on things.”
Ruth says her most memorable moments from her Arctic voyage were those all the participants shared together. She particularly enjoyed the pod group cheer challenges that start every day on the ship. Whether you’re on team Alpha, Bravo, or Charlie, the energy in the room during these cheer sound-offs is always uplifting.
Ruth’s perspective shifted after her expedition. She says, “When I came home I realized that there are so [many] more opportunities for me out there during my lifetime, so I better keep on going adventures and learn more.” She has already stuck to her goal of continuing to seek adventure, having recently been selected as a Youth Ambassador with the GVN Foundation, an organization which aims to empower vulnerable communities all over the world. She is currently in the midst of fundraising to make the experience happen.
In March 2016, Ruth attended an artist gathering in Iqaluit, where she performed a play called Kiviuq Returns. This performance was put together to advocate for the creation of a performing arts centre in Nunavut.
Ruth’s community service and leadership has not gone unnoticed, late in 2016 Ruth was nominated by community members for the “Everyday Political Citizen” award by Samara Canada, which she won alongside two other young indigenous women. This amazing accolade garnered the attention of international news outlets and television shows across the country.
Ruth is currently in the midst of a gap year, and is planning on applying to study Environmental Science at the Burman University in Edmonton after finding a new interest in Botony.
“When I get older, my goal is to travel and further my education, because I believe we have to see and experience to learn and grow, and become who we wanted to become from when we were little.”