BUILDING LONG-LASTING RESILIENCY FOR INDIGENOUS YOUTH

During a career that has spanned more than 25 years, Susan Aglukark’s journey as a singer-songwriter has led her to reflect on who she is, where she came from and the importance of discovery–discovery of history, culture, and self.

Throughout this time, Susan kept coming back to one area of profound knowledge; the Inuit are an extraordinary people deeply grounded in a culture forged by their Ancestors, their journey is what shaped them.

Through her music, Susan has shared her experiences growing up in Nunavut, as well as the challenges faced by northern communities and Indigenous youth. She has been actively involved in various projects to bring food and support to northern communities. In December 2014, Susan launched the Arctic Rose Project and raised money to purchase hundreds of kilos of non-perishable food for food banks in the north. She has also channeled her energy into helping Indigenous youth dealing with crisis and identity issues by providing art and journaling workshops. In 2016, the Arctic Rose Foundation gained charitable status with a focus on helping youth in the north through art and other engaging creative projects.

“The purpose of the Arctic Rose Foundation (ARF) is to nurture Northern Children and Youth in their efforts to engage all aspects of their lives,” says Susan.

“The Arctic Rose Foundation will do this by creating culturally, emotionally, spiritually and physically safe environments for Northern Children and Youth.”

When a need is identified, and a program does not exist, the ARF will develop one with the assistance and participation of respective communities and local northern children and youth.

The Creative Cultural Reflection (CCR) program is an arts-driven program designed to provide participating youth a much-needed creative outlet. Launched this year in Rankin Inlet, youth participants are guided to explore, discover and connect with their ancestral and cultural background, in order to learn about the rich history of their communities, their families and themselves.

For Susan, art played a significant role in her personal healing journey and she believes it plays an important role for Indigenous youth who are dealing with contemporary identity issues today.

“I have seen first-hand the positive outcomes that occur when young people are able to use art, in any form, to connect with their ancestral culture and identity. Through self-discovery, they are able to uncover a proud and rich history and reconnect to who they are as an Indigenous person.”

In addition to receiving charitable status, the ARF established a fund with The Oakville Community Foundation (The Foundation) through a unique matching campaign – the Canada 150 Legacy Campaign. The Matching Campaign was made possible through a generous Estate gift from the late Doris Hyde. As the gift was unrestricted, The Foundation chose to use these funds to help other charities establish and build a Fund that will support their future needs. Charities established a new Endowed Fund with $10,000 and received an equal amount from The Foundation.

“Oakville has been a second home for more than 20 years. It is a community where Jacques and I raised our son, and where I have many close friends and fond memories. Starting a fund with The OCF is a way we can say thank you and contribute on a local level.”

Learn more about the Arctic Rose Foundation

See more incredible stories in our latest Annual Report!