Ever since she was little, Mia Otokiak has wanted to be a marine biologist. As a Grade 10 student in Cambridge Bay, she was really excited when Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) came to her hometown in 2012 to install its first community observatory. And now that she’s ONC’s Arctic Youth Science Ambassador, Mia is realizing her dream. “When I heard that 95% of the ocean is still unknown, I thought it would be really cool to explore it,” says Mia.
As the Arctic Youth Science Ambassador, Mia will be working to further ONC’s community engagement in the Arctic. She will be involved in the Safe Passage Program: sea ice research for arctic resource development and northern communities. The goal of the ONC-led Safe Passage project is to develop a better understanding of arctic sea-ice freeze-up and break-up. Mia will be interviewing arctic elders, youth and members of the Hunters and Trappers Organization to learn more about their knowledge and experience of sea-ice.
Mia is also part of Ikaarvik, a program that connects Nunavut youth with science. The program looks at ways that Inuit Traditional Knowledge and science can work together for mutual benefit. Since 2014, Mia has been working as the first, and only, paid employee at the Cambridge Bay Radio Station, where she’s the DJ, the Programmer and the Manager. “I love interacting with people, and I love being challenged,” says Mia with a big smile on her face. ”I also love being expected to do something and that satisfying feeling when you’ve done it.”