Youth, Arts and Media Team

Established with funding from the non-profit Nuclear Waste Management Organization, the recreation complex boasts a full-service "cook shack" able to support arts and culture events, farmers markets and youth food sector training. Photo: Jamie Bell
Established with funding from the non-profit Nuclear Waste Management Organization, the recreation complex boasts a full-service "cook shack" able to support arts and culture events, farmers markets and youth food sector training.

Case Studies and Visions to Grow On: The Cook Shack

When the Melgund Recreation Complex and its main recreation hall flooded in the summer of 2022, its communities were left without many of their community arts and recreation programs.

Case Studies, Consultations and Visioning Exercises

When the Melgund Township Recreation Complex and its main recreation hall flooded in the summer of 2022, its communities were left without many of their community arts and recreation programs. Since then, programs like ours have been working to re-build capacity from the ground up, delivering community programming in partnership with organizations in Manitoba, Nunavut and Minnesota like Global Dignity Canada, Niriqatiginnga, the University of Minnesota Duluth, the University of Victoria Community Based Research Lab, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, University of the Arctic and the OpenAI Researcher Access Program. Since 2022, many project activities have been coordinated using Winnipeg, Manitoba as a “central hub.”

Many northern communities, like those in Nunavut, rely on old, outdated diesel generators which are not good for the environment.
Many northern communities, like those in Nunavut, rely on old, outdated diesel generators which are not good for the environment.

Since 2020 through projects like Our People Our Climate, and building on activities funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Niriqatiginnga project has also been looking at visioning exercises from collaborative research programs and Centres of Expertise for national energy infrastructure programs at home, across the country and abroad. How are other organizations, communities and programs designing around community spaces and places? How are they recreating environments of inclusion and building grassroots and community capacity? What can we learn from their processes, activities and outcomes?

Collaboration with local communities and exchanging traditional knowledge will be vital components of our framework moving forward. Working even more closely with community members and regional champions like the Minneapolis College of Art and Design will allow us to create more relevant and impactful solutions.
Collaboration with local communities and exchanging traditional knowledge will be vital components of our framework moving forward. Working even more closely with community members and regional champions like the Minneapolis College of Art and Design will allow us to create more relevant and impactful solutions. Read more about their amazing work presenting at the 2024 Arctic Congress in Bodø, Norway.

The NWMO Context 

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is responsible for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel. Canada’s plan, also known as Adaptive Phased Management, requires used nuclear fuel to be contained and isolated in a deep geological repository in an area with informed and willing hosts. The $26B national environmental infrastructure project will be implemented over 175 years and has the potential to be an economic engine for the region.

A July 10 decision by Ignace Council to continue in the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO) siting process for a deep geological repository at the Revell Site has generated some controversy. Residents and opposition groups in the region are criticizing decision-making processes for lacking transparency and community involvement, contrasting it with South Bruce’s planned referendum.

Project Background 

Through dedicated community outreach, stakeholder engagement and technical analysis, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (“the NWMO”) has identified two potential host locations for Canada’s plan – the communities of Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation – South Bruce area, both in Ontario. The NWMO continues to work with the communities and their technical advisory teams to investigate the geoscientific characteristics of the sites and determine their technical suitability as potential sites for Canada’s deep geological repository. 

Centre of Expertise

One of the NWMO’s first large-scale investments in assets in the selected host community will be the Centre of Expertise. This facility will be established at or near the repository location, with the Centre of Expertise site to be determined in collaboration with the host community after the repository site is selected. 

Beyond the planned uses of the Centre of Expertise by the NWMO, it is the NWMO’s intention that the Centre of Expertise will include community-identified uses – such as a Visitor’s Centre, conference and classroom spaces, and other uses that enhance and benefit the host community such as public viewing galleries and interactive displays, and other uses that enhance and benefit the host community. 

The Market Square is envisioned as an informal external plaza to be shared between the users of the Centre of Expertise, the community and visitors. This public space could be programmed for multiple uses throughout the year.
The Market Square is envisioned as an informal external plaza to be shared between the users of the Centre of Expertise, the community and visitors. This public space could be programmed for multiple uses throughout the year. Photo: NWMO

Through the visioning process undertaken to date the communities and youth-driven programs have identified some potential uses for our local community spaces. As for the NWMO, in subsequent phases of planning for the Centre of Expertise more work will be done with the chosen host community to identify and refine these uses.

As the closest community recreation programs to the Revell site selection study area, we’ve learned a lot from those consultations, research and engagement.

Even in the winter the market square can be activated as an outdoor recreational space and used for hosting seasonal events. The front of the building with the main hall looking out onto the plaza allows for the opportunity to hold activities in a climate- controlled space next to the market square. Photo: NWMO
Even in the winter the market square can be activated as an outdoor recreational space and used for hosting seasonal events. The front of the building with the main hall looking out onto the plaza allows for the opportunity to hold activities in a climate- controlled space next to the market square. Photo: NWMO

The Melgund Recreation Complex

The vision for Melgund Township’s Recreation Department and Complex, a key partner of Niriqatiginnga, draws inspiration from the NWMO Centre of Expertise (CoE) visioning exercises to support community-based programming. This vision is centered on creating a vibrant hub for innovation and development in agriculture, arts, education, and community engagement. The complex is the closest recreation services provider in proximity to the Revell site selection study area.

Even though the Revell Site might not ultimately be chosen for the deep geological repository (DGR), the visioning process intended to imagine the Centre of Expertise (CoE) aligns well with work we’re doing with other organizations and programs like Niriqatiginnga, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, University of Minnesota Duluth, Global Dignity Canada, and various academic institutions. There’s a lot of great ideas in those reports that can help us shape our future community spaces and programs. What we learn from this research supports our broader goals of incubating local and regional innovation ecosystems that can thrive regardless of any final decisions regarding the DGR site.

Education-based, life-long and adult learning programs are able to focus on modern agriculture, skilled trades, and Indigenous history and culture are central to this vision. These kinds of programs can provide transferable skills and also promote sustainable agricultural practices. Enhancing existing partnerships with post-secondary institutions is crucial for developing these programs, engaging professionals and students with the community, and enhancing regional expertise in agriculture and related fields.

Fully restored, spaces like the Melgund Township Recreation Complex are able to feature spaces for local food production, such as community vegetable gardens, beehives, and flower gardens, thus integrating agriculture into the landscape. These areas can support community gatherings and local food sharing. Additionally, the complex is able to host regional farmers’ markets, allowing the community to plan regular events and support local vendors. Experimental agricultural plots will be included to explore innovative agricultural practices.

Arts and cultural activities are integral to a rejuvenated vision. There is a strong desire for spaces where local artists and businesses can showcase their talents and products. The complex already houses performance space for music, theater, and other performing arts, creating the foundations for a cultural hub that fosters creativity and community spirit. This includes spaces where community members can gather to share local food and engage in cultural exchange. Increasing integration of arts into the complex is seen as an excellent way to blend the built environment with the natural landscape, enhancing the overall aesthetic and cultural value of the area.

Small Modular Reactors and energy infrastructure were among the topics covered at the Kivalliq Energy Forum held at Qaumajuq and the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Winnipeg in February 2024.
Small Modular Reactors and northern nuclear energy infrastructure were among the topics covered at the Kivalliq Energy Forum held at Qaumajuq and the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Winnipeg in February 2024. The conference was hosted by the Kivalliq Chamber of Commerce with funding from Prairies Economic Development Canada and the department of Crown-Indigenous and Northern Relations.

Key features

One of the most attractive features of the complex is its ability to support the establishment of community vegetable gardens. These gardens can allow residents to grow their own produce, promoting self-sufficiency and healthy eating habits. Engaging as a community in gardening and food production activities, community members can also enjoy physical exercise and social connectedness and interaction, for a stronger sense of community.

One idea that has been discussed for almost five years has been the need to further support local agriculture, by building the organizational capability to support local food systems programs, host regular farmers’ markets and boost local and regional collaboration in community based projects.

Community feasts and special events that bring people together, create a sense of connectedness and contribute to reducing food insecurity.
Community feasts and special events that bring people together, create a sense of connectedness and contribute to reducing food insecurity.

These markets can also provide a platform for local and regional producers to sell their goods directly to the communities, boosting the local economy and ensuring residents have access to fresh, healthy food options without having to drive an hour away or more. Farmers’ markets also creates opportunities for artists, cultural entrepreneurs and community gatherings and cultural exchange, enriching the social fabric of the local region.

In addition to a proposed agricultural and sustainability focus, the Recreation Complex is planning to re-integrate arts and cultural activities. Performance spaces for music, theater, and other arts have been in place for decades, but are underused. Creating a cultural hub to celebrate local talent and foster creativity is a major objective, especially from the perspective of youth. Further exploring a blend of agriculture and the arts is expected to enhance the overall aesthetic and cultural value of the complex, restoring it to its proper place as a center for community life.

The recreation complex is able to support large community events from farmer's markets, concerts and community gardens.
The recreation complex is able to support large community events from farmer’s markets, concerts and community gardens. Events ranging from Canada Day to National Kindness Week are held in the community each year, drawing attendees from across the region.

With a vision centring on sustainability, education, and local engagement, the communities’ recreation department has incredible potential to support and sustain numerous agricultural-related opportunities that can benefit the communities in multiple ways.

It’s also an opportunity for the youth. There are many older residents, and not enough opportunities to engage the next generation. This pathway is also of value for supporting ongoing regional collaboration and projects with educational institutions and communities from Manitoba, Northwestern Ontario, Alaska, Nunavut, and Minnesota.

We’ll be learning more about some of the world-class research taking place at the Revell regional site selection study area over the coming weeks. In the meantime, follow along with our 2024 Summer Update for the latest news and stories about our activities and outcomes!

Repairs to the flooded recreation hall, and the construction of the "cook shack" space was funded  by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization. Photo: Jamie Bell

Local and Regional Innovation Ecosystems: Building an innovation ecosystem that includes local youth, technological tools, and collaborative projects can drive long-term community development and resilience.

OpenAI Researcher Access Program

The OpenAI Researcher Access Program is an initiative designed to democratize access to advanced artificial intelligence tools and resources, empowering researchers, educators, and innovators to push the boundaries of what AI can achieve. By providing access to sophisticated models like GPT-4, along with high-performance computing resources and cutting-edge software, the program enables participants to undertake complex AI-driven projects that go beyond traditional digital arts. It offers a platform where users can experiment with state-of-the-art AI applications, conduct research, and develop innovative solutions to real-world problems.

For the Youth, Arts, and Media Team, being accepted into this prestigious program marks a significant evolution in their activities. What was once a simple digital arts project driven by volunteers and youth, is now transforming into a comprehensive, technologically advanced initiative. The team is no longer limited to basic creative tasks; they are now equipped to integrate AI into their work, enhancing their creative outputs and developing new forms of interactive media. This access allows them to explore machine learning, natural language processing, and other advanced AI applications, turning their projects into cutting-edge experiments that blend technology with creativity. The program’s support in terms of mentorship, training, and collaboration opportunities further enriches their learning experience, ensuring that they are not just consumers of technology but active contributors to the field of AI.

Niriqatiginnga is a collective of volunteers, artists, youth, community-based projects, nonprofit organizations, academia and businesses exploring capacity building through the arts, climate and food sector entrepreneurship. Join us this summer as we connect with Winnipeg and Manitoba-based arts, programs and organizations that inspire us, and to learn about the work they do best.
Niriqatiginnga is a collective of volunteers, artists, youth, community-based projects, nonprofit organizations, academia and businesses exploring capacity building through the arts, climate and food sector entrepreneurship. Join us this summer as we connect with Winnipeg and Manitoba-based arts, programs and organizations that inspire us, and to learn about the work they do best. Learn more with our 2024 Summer Update.

Sustainable Development Goal 9

Sustainable Development Goal 9 (SDG 9) aims to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation. Activities that support SDG 9 include investing in infrastructure development such as transportation, energy, and communication networks. These efforts not only improve connectivity and access to essential services but also create employment opportunities and stimulate economic growth, particularly in developing regions. Furthermore, fostering innovation through research and development initiatives enhances technological progress and promotes sustainable industrial practices. By focusing on these areas, countries can contribute to SDG 9’s objectives of fostering inclusive and sustainable industrialization, ensuring infrastructure development, and encouraging innovation for sustainable development.

About our summer programming

Youth, Arts and Media Team summer activities are supported with funding and support from a number of partners and collaborators, including: Global Dignity CanadaInnovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, the University of Minnesota DuluthManitoba Agriculture and the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership. We also thank the University of the ArcticOpenAI Researcher Access ProgramAgri-Food and Agriculture Canada and the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment Skills Program. Thank you for supporting the Youth, Arts and Media Team.

Initial related scientific activities and recreational activities from 2020-2023 were also supported under the Northern Services Boards Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. L.28 and R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 737, which provides legislative and regulatory frameworks necessary for municipal recreation service delivery. Operating as a Municipal or Public Body Performing a Function of Government in Canada, there has long been a strong need for Local Services Boards and unorganized communities to be better able rejuvenate and rebuild capacity with the next generation. Models designed and tested through programs like Niriqatiginnga integrate lessons learned from these prior arts, skill development, community-based creative entrepreneurship projects, and participatory organizational capacity building to meet community needs while incubating vibrant, resilient, and inclusive development. 

Picture of Youth, Arts and Media Team

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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