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Connected to possibilities
TakingITGlobal brings Connected North to Arviat

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Cisco Canada-funded Connected North program has arrived in the Kivalliq, and it's being led by an organization proven to be a good friend to Arviat youth.

NNSL photo/graphic

Andy Evaloakjuk, back, and Kathleen Ahmak, TakingITGlobal executive director Jennifer Corriero, Makayla Taleriktok, and Connected North educators Gord Billard and Yan Guilbeault, front row from left, work on creating a participatory culture through arts education in Arviat during Corriero's first visit to Arviat this past school year. - photo courtesy of Jamie Bell

TakingITGlobal co-founder and executive director Jennifer Corriero will be heavily involved with Arviat's participation in the program.

Corriero has been working with Arviat youth through John Arnalukjuak High School and the Arviat Film Society since 2012.

She is also involved with the Overcoming Isolation and Deepening Social Connectedness initiative, which held its first global symposium this past year.

The symposium was attended by a number of Inuit from Arviat.

The Connected North program is a corporate social-responsibility initiative.

Schools in Arviat, Iqaluit and Cape Dorset are participating in the program.

Corriero said Cisco donated the TelePresence units being used in the Connected North program for the past two years.

She said TakingITGlobal is now coming in as the ecosystem lead in the initiative.

"We're really looking forward to entering into this really important initiative," said Corriero.

"The TelePresance units are at the high school in Arviat now and, this September, we're going to be focused on working closely with teachers to connect the students with opportunities through this interactive technology.

"We'll be helping to facilitate linkages with guest speakers to help really animate subject areas through external guest speakers who may not have the opportunity to travel to Arviat.

"We'll also be helping to facilitate cultural exchanges to have students work with their counterparts in different southern schools to share experiences."

Corriero said there will be a real emphasis placed on storytelling as a way to promote literacy and allow students to share stories on different topics of interest.

She said there will also be a virtual career fair to introduce students to various career options that exist today.

"That's the primary focus of Connected North to the Arviat students: to open up possibilities, provide guests who will inspire them to dream big, help them animate some of the different subject areas in order to really motivate them to see possibilities through their education, and encourage them to stay in school and become role models for younger children.

"We realize there have been teacher cuts in Arviat due to enrolment numbers and attendance.

"So one of the things we intend to do is identify some of the areas, like some Grade 12 sciences, and connect students with some educators who might help bring some of that subject matter to light, so they still may have a chance to complete some courses that aren't being taught in the school because of those cuts.

"I can't say an entire course would be delivered in the same way it would if a teacher were present but we are very concerned about the cuts and hope, through the program, there will be opportunities to continue to support those students who are discouraged by the cuts."

Corriero said by having TakingITGlobal as the ecosystem leader in Connected North, a series of videoconferences with classrooms around the world will be held.

She said some of the topics she expects to see covered are mental health and climate change.

"We have a big partnership with Polar Bears International and we're linking to various scientists.

"While our priority with Connected North is to support students who are in school, and help keep them there, we also want to invite community members to join some of the sessions they may be interested in.

"So, certainly, there could be some topics that young people who are not attending school could be interested in, or curious enough to sit in or perk their interest.

"So, while our initial priority is to support curriculum-based activities, we hope it also creates a buzz and excitement so students tell other youths in the community about what they did."

TakingITGlobal wants to create more platforms for youths to tell their stories and be on the world stage.

It will be actively seeking ways to get the voice of youth into different conversations concerning Canada's North and the Arctic.

Corriero said Arviat is a community directly impacted by climate change and TakingITGlobal will be sending youths to negotiations in Paris at the end of this year.

She said she is looking forward to returning to Arviat for Global Dignity Day this coming Oct. 21.

While in town, she plans to interview some youths and carry their voices to contribute to a number of international web tasks and global conversations.

"The way the model for the Connected North program works is to have lead ambassadors within the school who are teachers.

"We'll be defining who the ambassadors are in the upcoming weeks, and working with them to create their own road map and identify their learning objectives.

"We really require creative approaches to promote community resilience in terms of overcoming isolation for youths in the North.

"Through the program approach of Connected North - and the strength of TakingITGlobal's expertise and partnerships around the world - we can bring those links to generate a spirit of possibility and build on the hopes and aspirations of a community like Arviat."

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