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Time for youth to be taken seriouslyArviat resident shares his story with hopes of helping youth find their own voice
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Growing up, Eric Anoee Jr. spent most of his time on the sidelines looking in.
Growing up, Eric Anoee Jr. was always very shy but he learned to overcome it through his interests and involvement with various groups. He wants youth that are like him to put aside their doubts and speak up. - photo courtesy of Ramon Kaviok
At community events he struggled to strike up a conversation and he was too shy to get involved in much of the goings on.
But, his parents and teachers pushed him to join various clubs in Arviat and from there he found his voice.
"Being involved in those types of groups, you can't be quiet," he said.
Anoee was particularly impacted by an event he attended in his early 20s.
Nunavut had just been created and a meeting was held in Cambridge Bay to discuss issues of the day.
"There was about 40 meeting participants. Half were youth and half were elders," recounted Anoee.
"Listening to both was very, very interesting and that kind of got me really interested in meetings and my culture and politics all rolled into one."
His newfound curiosity in these topics drove Anoee to seek out ways to become involved in related organizations.
Today, he is the treasurer of the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation, the president of his local union and he sits on municipal council as well as on the board for Nunavut Broadband Development Corporation.
In his younger years, Anoee also gained confidence through learning about technology.
He started out teaching himself and later enrolled in distance education.
He remembers building his own website in the 1990s and searching to see if anyone in Nunavut had done the same.
From what he could find, no one had.
"I felt pretty empowered," he said.
Anoee is hoping his story will inspire youth to find their own voice.
"You just need to go out there and overcome your shyness and your self doubt and anything that are barriers for you," he said.
"Being shy isn't going to take you anywhere in life."
He wants teens to discover what they're interested in and then connect with people who share that passion.
If there isn't already a group in the community related to that interest, Anoee suggested starting one up. Gather friends and mentors and look at what resources are out there.
"Just keep at it. One song that I like, it is titled I Shall Not Be Moved. You youth shall not be moved."
For instance, about five years ago Anoee and other community members teamed up to create the Arviat Film Society.
It was a struggle initially because they had no support and no one took the group seriously.
Still, the members kept sending out letters and after a while the opportunities came.
The team has always wanted to run a TV channel and recently they were given the chance by IsumaTV.
Youth have been the driving force behind the society's success, Anoee said.
Teens, he said, have a lot of power if they use it
and they should be encouraged to.
"I think it's about time that youth are taken seriously," said Anoee.
"They are full of ideas, they're kind, they have real concerns, they want to use film to combat things like bullying, they want to interview elders because they're losing their culture and they want to learn it themselves."
Community members should support the youth by encouraging them in what they're passionate about, volunteering their time and teaching them.
When Anoee was 13 years old he lost his father. Although he missed him, he never felt like there was a void.
"My community and family continued to raise me," he said, adding they taught him everything the elder Anoee would have, such as how to handle a rifle.
Arviat has somewhat lost that tradition since because of southern influences, he said.
The community needs to find it again and support youth so they can grow up to be able persons.
"The community is what raises a child."