Messy Book Program

The Messy Book Program was launched in January 2018 in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. We are now in the third year of its implementation with our partners in Nunavut for a multi-year delivery of this Inuit-led, arts-based after school art program.

To date, the Messy Book Program has been delivered in the following Northern communities:

  • Rankin Inlet (Maani Ulujuk Highschool)
  • Arviat (Hamlet of Arviat)
  • Cambridge Bay (Kiilinik Highschool)
  • Arctic Bay (Inuujaq School)

Over the past two years, our team has worked to adapt the program to into a hybrid in-person and virtual delivery model in response to the COVID 19 pandemic.

About the Messy Book Program

The Messy Book Program offers daily after-school, culturally-specific art programs to youth in Grades 5-12. Youth are provided with a safe space (Arctic Rose Room), an emotional outlet, and access to Indigenous artists, role models and mentorship. We partner with participating communities and high schools, to train and hire high school students or local artists to become CALM Workers (Community Artist Liaison and Mentor Workers) and CALM Worker Mentees (who act as an on-call support staff) to run the program during the school year. The program model builds on Inuit adaptability and is implemented within the context of the unique needs of each community.

Youth engaged in this after-school art program are guided to explore, discover, and connect with their traditional and cultural backgrounds. The program combines art, aspects of non-clinical art-writing therapy, movement, music, digital technology, and drama to encourage creative cultural and historical exploration – connecting youth with their culture and promoting mental health. Our process is intentional, and offers consistent staff, supports and space for Inuit and Indigenous youth.

The Messy Book Program also provides opportunities for youth to receive mentorship and develop leadership skills. In the safe spaces the Arctic Rose Foundation provides, and in the presence of positive adult role models, youth are supported and encouraged to express themselves using many different art forms. The program also creates income for CALM Workers, and provides healthy food and snacks to promote nutrition, health and self-respect among youth participants.

Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) Principles

The Messy Book Program incorporates Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) principles to guide our staff and the activities. The program is culturally specific and directed by adults and youth who are part of the culture. The project empowers youth by encouraging self-directed learning, allowing them to determine their own art projects, and collectively decide on themes they explore month to month.

We also ensure their own Indigenous language is used for the project delivery, and Indigenous arts practitioners, with a current preference for Inuit artists, are included throughout the year who teach new artistic skills and speak to the participants about their lives and artistic practices.

“There are many aspects of being an artist – everything from finding inspiration, practising art, finding a market, and more – but the most important part has been to use it as a means to communicate who I am, what I see, and how I feel. To be given the opportunity, through the Arctic Rose Foundation, to share this knowledge and help others find joy in exploring this outlet with the youth in the North, has been personally an enriching and very rewarding experience.  I too, grew up in the North where there were limited to non-existent opportunities, initiatives, safe spaces, and resources outside of school to run programs that directly benefited youth like me. It was a different time, but the needs of youth have not changed and are greater in number today. Making specifically Inuit-influenced art tutorials that are relatable and reflect the communities that the youth live in has strengthened and encouraged my wanting to fill a need for youth and myself as an artist and fellow Inuk. This past year, I’ve been especially grateful that I can focus on sharing the joy of expressing through art, as well as sharing personal and cultural awareness through storytelling.”

 Ilisapi, Inuit Art Expression Lead, 2021

Through the Messy Book Program, youth:

  • Learn basic mental health management skills
  • Experience cultural pride and knowledge sharing
  • Develop leadership and verbal communication skills
  • Receive mentorship and guidance
  • Experience art as an emotional and creative outlet
  • Learn project follow through
  • Build self-respect
  • Develop emotional intelligence


Contact Us

200 North Service Road West, Unit 1, Suite 355, Oakville, ON, L6M 2Y1

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The Arctic Rose Foundation is a charitable organization that grew out of the Arctic Rose Project, started by Inuk singer-songwriter Susan Aglukark in 2012. Officially designated as a registered charity in 2016, and incorporated in 2020, the Arctic Rose Foundation works to support Northern Inuit, First Nations and Métis youth through the creation of Indigenous-led, arts-based after school programs, and other engaging cultural and creative projects.