Youth, Arts and Media Team

Niriqatiginnga founding member Tony Eetak is this year's youth artist-in-residence with the Winnipeg-based nonprofit.
Youth are driving this program by bolstering their digital and data literacy skills, which are integral for life skills in arts, cultural and food sector entrepreneurship. Photo: Tony Eetak, Niriqatiginnga Youth, Arts and Media

Youth, Arts and Media Program Exploring AI’s Role in Northern Food Security

This week we are learning how artificial intelligence intersects with food security and our capacity-building activities with the Niriqatiginnga Youth, Arts, and Media Team.

This week we are going to learn about artificial intelligence and some of its many intersections with food security. As part of our capacity building activities with the new Youth, Arts and Media Team this summer, we’re diving into how AI can contribute to solving some of the most pressing global challenges, including ensuring that everyone has access to enough nutritious food. This is how we want to do things with our program.

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence, or AI, refers to the capability of machines to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. This can include learning from data, recognizing patterns, making decisions, and even understanding natural language. In the context of food security, AI can be a game changer. It can help predict crop yields, optimize resource use, and even monitor supply chains to reduce waste and improve efficiency. These are some of the areas we want to explore in this year’s fall and winter programming— how can we leverage the best tools available to make a tangible difference?

Our program is building from the ground up, and AI is playing a crucial role in advancing our learning. But our program isn’t just a great big collective (or framework) of organizations, programs, academia, businesses and industry — Youth are driving this program by bolstering their digital and data literacy skills, which are integral for life skills in arts, cultural and food sector entrepreneurship. They are actively involved in communicating activities and outcomes. In making sure our program is truly built from the ground up, we ensure that our next generation is well-equipped to address future challenges with informed, innovative solutions.

“Incorporating AI into our program helps us overcome capacity challenges and more effectively communicate the importance of food security,” said Jamie Bell, one of the program’s founders. “This technological integration enhances our collective organizational capability, allowing us to better serve and engage with our community.”

What is predictive modelling?

One of the most fascinating applications of AI in food security is called predictive modeling. It involves analyzing vast amounts of data from things like weather patterns, soil conditions, and crop health. AI systems can use this information to provide farmers with insights on the best times to plant and harvest crops and to plan ahead. This can maximize yield and minimize the risk of crop failure due to unforeseen environmental conditions. For example, AI systems have been successfully used in India to predict and mitigate the impact of droughts on crop production, securing food supplies for millions. This is how we want to do things—by applying innovation where it’s needed most.

“We are so thankful for the support and opportunities given to us through this program,” said Tony Eetak, one of the lead youth artists involved in the program this summer. “Learning about AI has been a game changer, providing us with skills that help us tackle real-world challenges like food security.”

The use of AI in food security isn’t just about deploying sophisticated technologies. It is equally important to ensure that these technologies are used ethically and responsibly. This brings us to resources like the guiding principles from organizations like the Government of Canada. These guidelines are designed to help ensure the effective and ethical use of AI. Firstly, it’s essential to be open about how, why, and when AI is being used. This is because transparency builds trust and helps people understand the benefits and potential risks of AI.

AI systems should prioritize the needs of individuals and communities, including Red River Metis, First Nation and Inuit peoples. This means considering the broader societal benefits of AI and not just the technological advancements. The data used by AI systems must be lawfully collected, ensuring that issues around privacy and intellectual property rights are respected. AI systems should also be designed to minimize biases and inaccuracies, and it should be clear when an AI system is making decisions rather than a human. This is how we want to do things—by placing ethics and integrity at the forefront.

How are we using these tools, technologies and approaches?

As a program and collective, we’re building our program from an arts-based foundation, focusing on learning intervention design, delivery, and evaluation as we grow. This emphasis on creative approaches enhances our understanding and ensures that our activities are inclusive and engaging. Integrating AI into our projects helps us overcome capacity challenges, and helps us more effectively communicate the importance of food security while fostering a more connected and informed community.

“We owe much of our success to the incredible support from our partners and funders,” said Bell. “Their commitment to our vision has enabled us to incorporate AI in ways that foster resilience, creativity, and informed decision-making among our youth. We are profoundly grateful for their continued belief in our mission.”

Ultimately, our goal is to use AI not just to enhance technological capabilities and to address capacity challenges, but to genuinely improve lives and the way we work with communities. The intersection of AI and food security is a rich area for further exploration, and we’re excited to see how these technologies can help address one of humanity’s most fundamental needs: access to food.

As we continue this journey, we’ll delve into specific tools, case studies, and the ethical considerations every Friday, so stay tuned for more insights and exciting developments in this space! This is how we want to do things—thoughtfully, responsibly, and with a clear vision for a better future.

See you next week.

About our summer programming

This year’s Youth, Arts and Media Team summer activities are supported by Global Dignity Canada, and with funding from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. Manitoba Agriculture, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership, the OpenAI Researcher Access Program, Agri-Food and Agriculture Canada and the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment Skills Program. We thank them for supporting our youth and programs.

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Youth, Arts and Media Team

The Youth, Arts and Media Team supports participatory food security research, arts and organizational development. Through this program, funded by Agriculture Canada and the Government of Canada's Youth Employment Skills Strategy, Indigenous youth artists and early career communicators receive training and exposure to various forms of media and communication roles. Activities build career and job skills, supporting outreach, relationship development and engagement. There is a strong emphasis on food sector and digital literacy and training youth in the design and delivery of health and food security interventions that promote healthy messages.

Read our 2024 Summer Update

The Youth Employment and Skills Program (YESP) will contribute approximately $13.5 million to projects that employ youth and youth facing barriers. Each project will be eligible to receive up to $14,000 in matching funds to employ one (1) employee. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is one of several Government of Canada departments participating in the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy.

Driven by Youth and Volunteers

As a community program, nurturing the skills, knowledge, and networks of our future leaders, this unique, pilot program contributes beyond the success of its participants. It also aims to lay foundations for sustainable and impactful business and entrepreneurship programming.

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