News

Teens bring together north and south

A strong bond has been created between two teenagers from northern and southern Canada.
Lindsey Qanguq is from Pond Inlet on the northeast coast of Baffin Island. Aliya Kooistra is from Hamilton, Ont.
On Thanksgiving weekend, they spent time together in Waterford, where Aliya’s grandparents, Andy and Alide Kooistra live.
Their friendship dates back to 2015.
That’s when Lindsey travelled south for three hours by airplane to the town of Iqaluit in Nunavut Territory to attend the Arctic Youth Ambassador Caucus with Global Vision from Oct. 22 to Nov. 1. At the same time, Aliya headed to the caucus on a three-hour flight from Ottawa.
The girls quickly became friends. After they returned to their homes, they kept in touch through social media.
Aliya was less than a year old when her family settled in Waterford. She attended Waterford Public School until Grade 7 when the family moved to Hamilton.
Now 16, Aliya attends Hamilton District Christian School, where she is a student ambassador. She is on her school’s swim team and is in the choir. Her interest in northern Canadian culture was piqued in Grade 5 when she got an Inuit doll that came with a journal written in English, French and Inuktitut.
Just turned 18, Lindsey has graduated from her high school in Pond Inlet. She was student council president and played on the volleyball team. She developed her leadership skills by running an after-school program.
“I have wanted to be a politician since I was a little kid and I still want to be one and make a difference in Nunavut,” Lindsey says.
She now is studying at Nunavut Sivuniksavut, an Ottawa-based college program for Inuit youth.
Last March, the girls were again drawn together.
Lindsey was in Iqaluit as a parliamentary page for a week, staying with her mother in a hotel and preparing to return to Pond Inlet on March 9. Aliya was to arrive on March 10 in Iqaluit for a Global Vision round table conference. Aliya arranged with World Vision to have Lindsey remain for the conference, too.
Global Vision was founded in 1991 by Terry Clifford, two-term MP for London-Middlesex, whose goal for the Canadian non-profit organization is “to bring together the best and brightest young Canadians to prepare them for success in the global economy through hands-on experiences in community leadership, international trade, governance and diplomacy.”
The 2015 Arctic caucus brought together 50 young people from all parts of Canada to discuss solutions to problems unique to Nunavut. Among the challenges are food security, climate change and education. The caucus and this year’s round table set up a dialogue between Aliya and Lindsey on ways to  make changes.
Following both trips to Iqaluit, Aliya was motivated to do numerous presentations to local elementary and secondary schools so that students in southern Ontario could get a better understanding about Nunavut and its challenges. She is undecided, but is considering teaching as a career.
Now, that Lindsey is living in Ottawa, it is easier for two friends to get together.
On Thanksgiving weekend, Lindsey travelled to Hamilton as part of visit to southern Ontario that included a trip to Niagara Falls.
I met Lindsey and Aliya at a Kooistra family gathering in Waterford.
They soon headed to Simcoe to take in the Norfolk County Fair.
Aliya said she hopes that one day she will visit Lindsey in Pond Inlet.
Lindsey and Aliya are both well spoken as they express their concerns about challenges facing northern Canada.
Carol Steedman is a freelance writer who lives in Waterford. Readers can contact her at goffsteedman@execulink.com.