Fort Smith Métis Council, NT
“I really believe in the process of using the arts…Being able to follow something through from start to end and to be proud of it, regardless of what it actually looks like…is a great method for learning.”
Dr. Candice Lys has transformed sexual and mental health education research in the North through her development of two youth programs: FOXY (Fostering Open eXpression Among Youth) and SMASH (Strength, Masculinity and Sexual Health), which have reached more than 6000 Indigenous and Northern youth since 2012. Both programs use photography, music, and traditional Indigenous knowledges to empower youth to develop sexual agency and resiliency. FOXY is now a self-sustaining non-profit organization and earned the 2014 Arctic Inspiration Prize – the first instance where the entire $1 million prize was awarded to a single laureate.
In 2016, Dr. Lys was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal by the Governor General for her commitment and contribution to sexual health education. She is also the first Métis woman to be named an Ashoka Fellow: a champion of new ideas which transform society’s systems. A tireless advocate for Indigenous youth, Dr. Lys incorporates Indigenous knowledge into all that she does, grounding her work in empowerment.