Stories North began with two words: “What if?"
What if there was a way to connect students in Canada’s South with First Nations communities, youth, elders, long-time and new Northerners? What if we could find new ways to teach, to help fill curricular gaps, social and political blind spots in meaningful and productive ways? What if we could create an initiative to respond to the calls to action in Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission aimed at both journalists and educators?
Stories North grew from inspiration and idea into an initiative that has now brought 42 young journalists to the Yukon over two summers.
In 2017, Stories North founder, journalist Kanina Holmes, funded Stories North from a teaching award she won for educational innovation. Additional funding came from a community crowdfunding campaign to help offset costs for students’ accommodation and travel. Stories North also received micro grants from the Discovery Centre and the office of the Vice President for Teaching and Learning at Carleton University.
Whitehorse-based Air North helped pave the way early on with special student fares for Stories North participants. A heartfelt thank you for your continued enthusiasm for our work.
In its trial run in 2017, students produced projects about legacies of residential schools, missing and murdered Northern women, healing, traditional food, cultural resurgence and First Nations youth leadership.
In 2018, we shared stories about environmental stewardship, economic development through tiny homes, the evolution of gold mining in the Klondike, emerging First Nations hip hop artists, and journey of a transgender woman who keeps her culture close to her heart.
Most recently, in the summer of 2019, we focused our learning in Old Crow, the Yukon’s most northerly community, above the Arctic Circle. Check our our stories about traditional adoption, salmon, palaeontology guided by Indigenous ways of seeing, the continued fight to preserve the Porcupine caribou and Gwich'in language revitalization.
Momentum for the project grew and the MasterCard Foundation awarded Stories North with a management grant in 2018. The grant covered the costs of guest instructors, students’ transportation, accommodation, workshops and site visits throughout the Yukon. That same grant helped sustain Stories North in 2019.
In the summer of 2019, Yukon College (Communities, Innovation & Development) gave us an institutional home base to allow Stories North to continue transforming the perspectives and lives of young journalists.
Stories North could not have happened without the generosity and faith of these funders. Thank you for also believing in “What if!”
We hope to continue learning and aspiring and growing Stories North into a pan-Northern initiative that strives to build capacity and shared understandings.