Blog post written by Arctic 2017 alum Veronica Flowers.
Susan (left) and Veronica (right) taking in Reykjavik on the first day of the delegation.
Being apart of the SOI delegation at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavík was an incredible experience that I will be forever grateful for!! It allowed me to connect with so many inspirational people from around the world and reconnect with SOI alumni. After reflecting on my experience, I’ve realized just how much knowledge I’ve gained about the Arctic, climate change, and how climate change affects Indigenous peoples lives. It has inspired me to make a difference for my community in Nunatsiavut, and I hope to encourage the youth back home to take on every opportunity and to become young leaders for the future!
Our first day of arriving in Reykjavík was amazing!! We had an official welcome with our delegation. We started out introducing ourselves, getting to know one another, and setting goals as a team and for ourselves. It was a great way to prepare ourselves and get excited for the assembly! We also had a networking workshop, which helped us develop more social skills and make it easier for us to network with others. Later that day, we did a DIY walking tour of Reykjavík, which taught us more about the history of the city and got us excited for the days to come!! To end off the day, we attended the official welcome reception for the assembly and got to use our networking skills we learned earlier that day. Overall, it was an amazing and inspiring day to start off this new journey!!
The DIY SOI walking tour of Reykjavik stopped at the Sun Voyageur sculpture along the water.
We spent the next three days at Harpa to attend the Arctic Circle Assembly. As a group, we started off each day by sharing how we were feeling and what our personal goals were for that day. At the assembly, we had the opportunity to attend several different talks and workshops, which covered a wide variety of topics such as sustainability, self-governance, economy and politics, youth engagement, and Indigenous issues in the Arctic. Between sessions, we had a chance to network with other youth, leaders, and inspiring people from around the world. The delegation was also invited to the Arctic youth engagement event, which was hosted by Reykjavík US Embassy. We were able to engage with youth from Iceland and meet Byron Nicholai from Alaska, who is a former Arctic youth ambassador. We got to watch the documentary “I Am Yup’ik”, which focuses on Byron, and we got to learn about the challenges youth face in his community and the importance of their culture and traditions. On Saturday evening, we had an SOI reception, which turned out to be super amazing! We got to connect and reconnect with SOI alumni, meet new people, and create new friendships!! It was definitely the most incredible night of the trip. On Sunday, we had an Inuit gathering at the assembly, which I thought was really unique. Being able to meet and connect with other Inuit from Canada, Alaska, and Greenland was very inspiring. It was so interesting to learn about their culture and traditions and how it was similar to my traditions back home. I learned that climate change is affecting all of our traditional ways of life. We discussed what we would like to see next year at the assembly to have Inuit more involved. Some ideas were to have Inuit more present in panel discussions, have Inuit storytelling, and have a reception for Inuit. Inuit are people of the Arctic, which is why I would love to see us be more represented at next year’s Arctic Circle assembly, to be able to speak our opinions and share our traditional knowledge.
The Inuit gathering at the Arctic Circle Assembly.
After an incredible weekend together, our delegation got together to debrief and discuss what’s next! We shared some amazing things that we learned, thought about changes we want to see in our communities, and shared what our plans were for when we arrived back home. Being able to attend this assembly to represent Nunatsiavut, my community, and my people was such an honour. I am so thankful I had this experience and got to spend it with such AMAZING people! It was such an inspiring and motivational trip, and I will do my best to reach my goals, to make a change, and to see a better future for the Arctic and the people who live there. <3