Arctic Inspiration Prize Awards Ceremony (Winnipeg)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Thursday, December 8, 2016
Good evening everyone, from near and far!
Let me begin by acknowledging the presence of the commissioners of Yukon and Nunavut, who are joining us this evening.
Fifteen years ago, one of the most celebrated Canadian films of all time was released.
Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, was the first feature film ever to be written, directed and acted entirely in the Inuktitut language. Many of you have no doubt seen it.
The film recounts an Inuit legend of a warrior’s courage in the face of an evil spirit. In one of the film’s critical scenes, Atanarjuat, “the fast runner,” runs across the ice fields of the Eastern Arctic, fleeing the evil spirit that’s plaguing his community.
Bravely, he lives and returns to fight another day.
I was reminded of this memorable scene last May during a visit to Salluit, Nunavik, where I met with members of the Salluit Running Club. Seven of them had recently travelled to Hawaii—more than 7 500 kilometres away—to run in the Big Island International Half-Marathon.
And guess what? There were some very “fast runners” among them! Of the seven, one finished in first place in his category, and two others finished in the top five!
All seven runners have reason to hold their heads high.
Why do I share this story of the Salluit Running Club?
Because we need to hear more inspiring stories from the Arctic.
And we need to celebrate these stories, and encourage more of them.
That’s why we’re in Winnipeg today for the presentation of the Artic Inspiration Prize!
This prize exists to support innovative, sustainable, collaborative projects in the Arctic. It recognizes great work already done, but it’s also forward-looking, encouraging even greater achievements to come.
This prize rewards projects with long-term impact that change lives.
These are projects that not only make Arctic communities stronger, they make Canada a better country and the world a better place.
This year’s finalists for the Arctic Inspiration Prize have been doing just that.
They’re building culture, encouraging healthy, active living and creating economic opportunities.
They’re working toward environmental and economic sustainability, improving mental health and fostering tourism.
They’re teaching programming and game design and helping people navigate the challenges of climate change.
They’re doing all of this by working locally within diverse, dedicated, talented teams.
I’m so inspired by the work of all nominees for this prestigious prize. Each has made a unique and valuable contribution to the Arctic and its people.
So thank you for inspiring us, and for giving us more stories to celebrate from the Arctic.
Congratulations to all of you.
I wish you continued success, and I wish everyone a wonderful evening.