The Woman Bringing Unconventional Sex Ed to the Arctic
It turned out to be the most pivotal decision of Ashoka Fellow Candice Lys’ life: continue with a research stint in Greenland or return home to Canada’s far north and deliver arts-based HIV-prevention workshops. Lys picked door No. 2.
In a region with higher rates of sexual violence, sexually transmitted infections and teenage pregnancy than the rest of Canada, Lys’ unconventional approach — incorporating theater, music, photography, digital storytelling and Indigenous beading — is making an impact.
Candice Lys, who was raised in a Métis family (a distinct group of Indigenous peoples in Canada) is bringing sexual and health education to almost 70 percent of the young people in Canada’s far north. She’s taking an “extremely organized, very ambitious” approach to expanding her efforts to include mental health challenges, bullying, family violence, intergenerational trauma and sexual assault. Ashoka Canada’s executive director Barb Steele says the work she is doing “is transferable to many other issues and cultures” as well as “beyond the far north and very likely beyond Canada.”