Mr. Speaker, today I rise to recognize the Fostering Open Expression among Youth team, better known as FOXY, for receiving the 1 million dollar Arctic Inspiration Prize.
The Arctic Inspiration Prize recognizes and promotes the extraordinary contribution made by teams in gathering Arctic knowledge and using this knowledge for real world applications. The prize is awarded by a selection committee, engaged partners and ambassadors. FOXY was nominated for this award by Premier Bob McLeod, with support from Minister Lafferty, Minister McLeod and myself. This year was the first time the entire prize had been awarded to one group, rather than split among several recipients.
FOXY is a northern-based, youth-led sexual health education program that has been operating in the Northwest Territories for three years. It focuses on the complex determinants of sexual health in the Canadian North, not just visible indicators of sexual health problems and provides honest, realistic, and comprehensive education that empowers young women to make their own informed decisions. This program is designed by and for young women. It recognizes and addresses the link between sexual health and mental health and supports youth in developing healthy relationships based on equality, respect, and consent. By encouraging youth, and especially young women, to connect with their cultures and fostering the growth of young leaders and strong social support networks, FOXY also contributes to community wellness.
FOXY was created as a new way of talking with young people about sexual health, sexuality, and relationships. FOXY has provided sexual health education in the Northwest Territories since 2012. This education helps combat the high rate of sexually transmitted infection in the Northwest Territories and provides young women with knowledge and skills to make healthy decisions regarding sexuality.
Mr. Speaker, I’m sure all Members are interested in what the FOXY team will do with their well-deserved award. The additional support will help them expand the program into Yukon and Nunavut. FOXY will also provide its sexual health and leadership programs to all genders. This initiative will certainly be a great use of these extra resources.
Mr. Speaker, healthy, educated people is a goal of this Assembly and of the Government of the Northwest Territories. The Department of Health and Social Services is working toward that goal by continuing to deliver sexual health prevention and promotion activities and work with other GNWT departments on initiatives that address underlying factors contributing to the spread of STIs.
Working with innovative community partners also helps us progress toward our goal, and we will continue to work with FOXY to identify opportunities for enhanced community and youth engagement on sexual health issues. I am proud of FOXY’s achievement and excited about our on-going collaboration.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.