Arctic exchange: Students from Toronto, Iqaluit swap places to tackle problems
Published Friday, July 21, 2017 10:30PM EDT
A group of Toronto students traded lives with teens from Nunavut in an exchange designed to give them a glimpse of challenges facing northern Canadians and the chance to brainstorm creative solutions.
Daily difficulties were front-and-centre during the five-day visit in Iqaluit. The Ontario students learned from their northern peers what it was like to go to school, pay for groceries and live in the harsh conditions.
"There is a lot of poverty in Canada, and suicide, depression. And I feel like it’s a lot about accessibility," one student told CTV News.
The teens from both regions then headed back to Toronto together and attended a business competition, organized by the Economic Club of Canada, to pitch innovative ways to improve quality of life in the North.
Many agreed that the answer was to provide access to fresh, healthy and affordable food.
“I don’t understand how we continue to let this happen day after day -- let people in the North pay more and then have harder lives,” said another student.
The cost of groceries in Nunavut is notoriously high. According to a 2016 report, food in Nunavut costs two to three times the price of the same products sold in southern provinces.
One of the solutions the students brought forward was to invest in a greenhouse. They also identified more opportunities for sports, entertainment and employment as major needs for the community.
The teens pitched their ideas to an audience of business leaders and politicians, including federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
"Some of the best ideas come from young people in our country who are thinking without constraints about how we can create opportunities," Morneau said.
The students urged for more money to be put into building sustainable, independent businesses in Nunavut.
"Let's put some domestic investment into the Native business owners and help create the jobs, so it’s no longer a band-aid solution," said another student.
The North Meets South exchange program included 25 students from Ontario and 25 from Nunavut. Aside from encouraging entrepreneurial creativity, the exchange was meant to connect students from different backgrounds.
With a report from CTV’s Peter Akman in Toronto