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Ice binds everyone together

A bird flies near sea ice.

A lesson in generosity. This week, I attended the Arctic Inspiration Prize celebration here in Ottawa, Canada, and I witnessed the growth of a movement. Let me tell you how that movement started.

Sima Sharifi first came to Canada as a political refugee from Iran. Her husband, Arnold Witzig, came as an immigrant from Switzerland. They fell in love with the north, as many of us have. In 2012, they founded the Arctic Inspiration Prize, which has now given millions of dollars to innovative projects across Canada’s Arctic. On Wednesday night, they announced that they will give their entire fortune – $60 million dollars – to support this fund into the future. As Arnold simply stated: “All of our wealth is dedicated to the Arctic Inspiration Prize.”

As much as the donation moved me, I was so impressed by the selflessness that permeates each aspect of this prize. It’s not an act of charity, it’s providing fuel to ignite something that was always there. Power, creativity, knowledge, innovation, and love are coming forward through this extraordinary act of generosity.

For one recipient, the prize means “to be seen for who we are.”

I chose this photograph by Eric Guth because I love the power in that little bird soaring upward. And because there is no single image that can represent the cultural diversity of the north, but the ice binds everyone together.

Thank you Arnold and Sima. I’m inspired to give.

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