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    Teenagers demonstrate knowledge of Agreement

    Kassina Ryder
    Northern News Services
    Published Monday, August 11, 2008

    IQALUIT - Four Inuit teenagers are the winners of the 606 Contest, an essay competition put on by Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated in celebration of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement's 15th birthday.

    Fifteen-year-old Inuit throughout the territory were encouraged to send in an essay on their views about any part of the land claim agreement.

    David Korgak Jr. (Iqaluit), Danielle Meyok (Kugluktuk), Douglas Ollie (Arviat) and Stephanie Kootoo (Ottawa) were chosen as the winners and were each awarded $1,500.

    Initially, three winners were going to be selected, Kerry McCluskey, NTI's director of communications said. "But because four had such close high scores, we ended up going with a total of four."

    A group of NTI employees read and judged all the essays, and the four were chosen based on the writers' knowledge of the land claim agreement and the impression the essays had on the judges, McCluskey said.

    "Their level of understanding of how this had impacted their lives, it was really great," she said. "I was really pleased to be a part of it."

    Douglas Ollie said he saw the notice about the essay contest on the Internet and wanted to get involved. He wrote his essay to show appreciation to the people responsible for the land claim agreement.

    "I wrote about what I thought about the land claims," Ollie said. "I wanted to thank the people who planned NTI and the Nunavut Land Claims."

    He plans on spending his $1,500 on a green Honda 350, he said.

    Stephanie Kootoo lives in Ottawa now but she was born in Iqaluit. She wrote her essay about how proud she is to be an Inuk who is part of the land claim, and how she spends her time when she visits the North. She is also going to spend her prize money on a vehicle.

    "I'm going to save it for a car when I'm older," Kootoo said. "I'm not sure what kind, maybe a sports car, a nice one."

    The vehicle would be black, silver or yellow, she added.

    Tooneejoulee Kootoo-Chiarello, Stephanie's mother, said she was happy her daughter won and that Stephanie understands the importance of her culture.

    "Her father and I were very proud of her recent achievement," Kootoo-Chiarello said. "I think no matter where you choose to live in Canada you can still hold on to your identity as long as you keep it within the family."

    The four winning essays will be published in NTI's magazine Naniiliqpita this fall.