Hannah Hill is Arctic bound. In only a few short days the grade 12 student from Unity Christian High School will travel to Iqualuit Nunavut, with a youth-oriented non-profit called Global Vision. During her stay she’ll serve as an ambassador from her community and meet with sixty of Canada’s young leaders (thirty from the South and thirty from the North) for the first-ever Arctic Council Youth Ambassador Summit.
This isn’t the first time that Hannah has seized a learning opportunity through Global Vision. In March 2013, she was present at the organization’s Global Leaders Centre conference in Toronto and has twice attended Global Vision’s Ambassadors Caucus. By October 2013 she had raised the funds needed for an economic trade mission to the Arctic and has attended two Economic Roundtable discussions—one in St. Johns Newfoundland, and the other in Toronto.
As a Summit participant, Hannah will join a cohesive team of young people (aged 15-25) to discuss innovative solutions to the Arctic region’s most pressing challenges—like responsible resource development, safe shipping, and building sustainable circumpolar communities. Upon conclusion of the summit, ambassadors will develop a consensus to present to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“The issue that interests me the most would be developing sustainable communities in the Arctic,” says Hannah. “Coming from Alliston Ontario, a community of 10,000 people, I can relate to the sense of pride and the hospitable feeling of the people of Iqaluit.”
She says that a similar feeling of community defined her experience at Unity Christian High school, where meaningful interactions with students and with staff encouraged her to hone her leadership skills and explore Canada’s political landscape.
“My school has been supportive in my efforts to attend the Summit,” she says. “One of the guidance counsellors, Ms. Furtney, has encouraged me to take hold of every opportunity that I’ve received with Global Vision. I can honestly say that I don’t think I would be attending the Summit, hadn’t she pushed me to take hold of the other opportunities available with the organization.”
Hannah can also point to specific courses that have provided her with useful knowledge for her Northern adventures.
“During my trade mission to the Arctic last Fall, I was in the midst of taking a course called the Environment and Resource Management. I was able to take the concepts and knowledge I was learning at the time and apply it beyond the classroom. For example, we had particularly been discussing transportation of goods before I left for the Arctic. One of the presentations made at the conference was on the safe shipping of goods from the South to the North using trade routes.”
Staff at Unity Christian High School have created opportunities for Hannah to share what she’s learned. After returning from her trade mission to the Arctic last Fall, she was invited to make a presentation to students about Northern Inuit culture.
In November, she’s likely to return to her community with more insights to share—as far as she’s concerned, it’s essential to keep young people informed about the discussions that will shape the future of the North.
“As a youth, I think it’s important that we be aware of the issues facing the North, and participate in the decision-making process,” she reflects. “Since we’re going to be the next generation of leaders in Canada, we will inherit the responsibility of the North.”
As a follower of Christ, Hannah also sees an important link between stewardship and a commitment to fostering dialogue. “God created the Earth, we must cultivate and keep it as He tasked us in Genesis 2:15,” she says. “We focused on this mandate in the Grade 9 Worldview class at Unity. We’re essentially His stewards, and by discussing these issues, we realize that we must take action.”