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Background Information

Employment History

Research Associate
Institute for Circumpolar Health Research

HPV Project Coordinator
University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health

National Aboriginal Health Organization

Junior Public Health Officer
Public Health Agency of Canada


Board Member
Dechinta University

Member At Large
Canadian Society for Circumpolar Health

Scientific Committee
15th International Congress on Circumpolar Health

Staff Member
Dalhousie University


BA ( Honours
University of Alberta

Health Promotion
Dalhousie University

Public Health Sciences
University of Toronto

Public Health Sciences
University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health

Web References (44 Total References)

Board of Directors « Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning

dechinta.ca [cached]

Candice Lys was raised in a very large Métis family in Fort Smith and now resides in Yellowknife. She holds a Master's degree in Health Promotion and is a PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health. As a Research Associate with the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research (ICHR), Candice is the Project Lead for the FOXY (Fostering Open eXpression among Youth) sexual health education program. FOXY is a peer-led, arts-based sexual health program that uses drama and the arts to facilitate discussion and education regarding sexual health, healthy sexuality, and positive decision-making among young women across the Northwest Territories. Candice is involved with numerous territorial, national, and international health organizations, including the Member at Large for the Canadian Society for Circumpolar Health and a member of the National Aboriginal Council on HIV/AIDS. As a Northerner who has had to move many times to complete post secondary education in southern institutions, Candice has a deep interest in furthering non-traditional, Northern-led education that is dynamic, responsive to the needs of students, and accessible to all.

On December 10, Candice Lys was ...

maisonneuve.org [cached]

On December 10, Candice Lys was just one of many graduate students making brief fifteen-minute presentations at the Arctic Change 2014 conference in Ottawa. Twelve hours later, FOXY, Lys's non-profit organization for teen girls in the Northwest Territories, was awarded the $1-million Arctic Inspiration prize.

Before the award, FOXY's future was precarious. During her morning session "Health and Well-Being in Arctic Communities," Lys explained that the organization's three-year project funding was due to run out in early 2015.
Lys, a Métis academic-activist from Fort Simpson, began her presentation with statistics: The Northwest Territories is second only to Nunavut in having Canada's highest rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and teen pregnancies.
Providing data is mandatory-Lys is a PhD candidate in public health at the University of Toronto. But then she began showing slides of Inuit, Metis, First Nations and settler teenage girls at workshops. They were laying down on large sheets of paper to create body maps, a type of art therapy where women draw their outline and then fill in the shape with colours and illustrations that illuminate their life experiences. The purpose? To address body concerns such as sexuality and trauma. "Body mapping also helps youth to figure out who they are, where they come from, and who they want to be and their goals in life," Lys says.
The youths were acting out common teen situations-relationships, parties-and discussing potential outcomes and responses, Lys explains.
"Arts-based research methods," Lys explained to the mostly academic audience, noting that FOXY is an acronym for Fostering Open Expression Among Young People.
Lys founded FOXY with Nancy MacNeill, an arts promoter based in Yellowknife.
Before starting the organization, Lys had interviewed young women who said they needed sexual health information and resources. Sex education in territory's high schools was outdated, relying on a curriculum created in 1990-decades before cell phones became integral to teen dating.
Since it launched, FOXY has trained a cadre of fifty peer leaders to provide safer sex health leadership in the territory. The young leaders have, with Lys and MacNeill as co-facilitators, conducted sex health workshops in twenty-five of the Northwest Territories' thirty-three communities.
According to Lys, the prevailing attitude appears to be: "If a girl passes out at a party, what happens later is her own fault."
FOXY takes a harm reduction approach. Instead of warning girls not to go to parties and drink, it stresses the importance of having a designated sober friend. Peer leaders provide guidance on "how to party and live to tell the tale," Lys says.
The organization has operated on about $250,000 to $300,000 a year, and in addition to PHAC funding it has received other grants and in-kind support, Lys says.
Lys and MacNeill plan to use the $1-million Arctic Inspiration prize-dubbed the "Nobel of the North" at the award ceremony-to expand FOXY to the Yukon and Nunavut, and also to establish a separate organization for teenage boys in the north.
Lys hopes that the award will help leverage other funding, as she wants to invest a good portion of the award towards providing ongoing support for FOXY.
As an academic, Lys also wants to find financial backing for a long-term follow-up evaluation that will gather data to determine whether FOXY has an impact on the high teen pregnancy and STI rates in the Northwest Territories.
But these workshop evaluation comments suggest it has already had a positive impact on lives: "It's made me realize what kind of person I am and I picked up on some strengths that I didn't know before. I was able to surround myself with a better environment," one reads. "It sort of broke me out of a shell," says another.
Back when Lys was 24, the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO) saw her potential and identified her as an Aboriginal role model. (The Harper Government eliminated government funding to NAHO in 2012 and NAHO no longer exists.)

FOXY ladies at Sir John Franklin ...

norj.ca [cached]

FOXY ladies at Sir John Franklin High School in Yellowknife pose with FOXY peer leader Makenzie Zouboules, front center. (Photo: Candice Lys)

FOXY ladies at Sir John Franklin High School in Yellowknife pose with FOXY peer leader Makenzie Zouboules, front center. (Photo: Candice Lys)
Candice Lys, originally of Fort Smith, is a researcher with the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research (ICHR) in Yellowknife and FOXY's project lead.
The idea for FOXY was sparked by Lys' master's degree research on young NWT women and sexual health.
"One of the things that kept coming up was, sure, there are lots of current programs and resourceful websites, but girls were looking for a new and innovative way to talk about sexual health, sexual relationships, sexuality in general," Lys told The Journal.
FOXY, which ran a pilot workshop in Hay River last March, seeks to fulfil that demand.
Over the past year, the FOXY crew has traveled to almost a dozen NWT communities, including Aklavik, Colville Lake, Fort Good Hope and Tulita, thanks to a partnership with Canadian North airlines.
"FOXY's evolved since it started...It's kind of a phenomenon now and it just keeps growing," Lys said, adding the program is also in the thick of developing its own manual.
"Girls love FOXY. It's really engaging and hands-on, a different way of internalizing the material," Lys said. "The first thing we do when we get there is push all the desks aside and make a big open space. They're on their feet all day long. We do body mapping, theatre, ice breaking activities...I'm always amazed that even the shyest girls throw on a hat and jump right into the drama aspect."
Lys is currently working on her PhD in Public Health Science through the University of Toronto. Her thesis will be tied to data collected through FOXY, specifically the program's upcoming phase two.
Lys said the whole idea of the conference is to inspire girls to undertake projects of their own when they go back to their communities.
"What those projects are will depend on what the girls want to do. We anticipate a lot of them will have to do with social media. Either way, FOXY will be available to help support them."
Ultimately, the FOXY goal is empowering young women, Lys said.
Lys, FOXY project coordinator Nancy MacNeil and their team of peer leaders plan to make an appearance in Fort Smith towards the end of the month, along with return trips to Fort Resolution and Hay River.
As for what's next for FOXY after phase two, Lys said the sky's the limit.

Governance « Canadian Society for Circumpolar Health

csch.ca [cached]

Born and raised in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories in a large Métis family, Candice Lys is now a Research Associate with the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research in Yellowknife. She graduated with First Class Honors from the BA Honors (Sociology) program the University of Alberta and holds a MA (Health Promotion) from Dalhousie University. Currently, Candice is a doctoral student and Vanier scholar in the PhD (Public Health Sciences) program at the University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Her current research involves developing, implementing, and evaluating a sexual health theatre project with youth in the NWT (called FOXY; Fostering Open eXpression among Youth) using community-based participatory methods. Candice is involved with numerous territorial, national, and international committees and conferences, including serving on the Scientific Committee for the 15th International Congress on Circumpolar Health.

Institute for Circumpolar Health Research » News

ichr.ca [cached]

Candice Lys, a recent graduate of Dalhousie University and our lead HPV prevalence study coordinator just won a coveted Vanier Graduate Scholarship for her upcoming doctoral studies at the University of Toronto. Her research proposal entitled, "Breaking the silence: developing a Continue Reading ?

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