Iqaluit teen's byline makes it into New York Times for interview she did about climate change

·3 min read
Katie Yu, 16, is a Grade 10 student at Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit, Nunavut. Her byline, and an interview she conducted on climate change, was published in the New York Times recently. (Submitted by Katie Yu - image credit)
Katie Yu, 16, is a Grade 10 student at Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit, Nunavut. Her byline, and an interview she conducted on climate change, was published in the New York Times recently. (Submitted by Katie Yu - image credit)

A 16-year-old Iqaluit student has earned her first journalism byline – and it's a big one.

Katie Yu was published in the New York Times on May 31.

The Grade 10 student, who attends Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit, was one of 10 winners in the top publication's 2022 Profile Contest. She competed against other teenagers from India to Iowa who interviewed and photographed fascinating people in their communities. Her article appears in the news outlet's "The Learning Network" section.

More than 1,400 students submitted their 700-word pieces to the contest.

There was a long waiting period before Yu heard the news she would be getting published, she said.

"When I heard, I was really surprised," Yu said. At first, she thought she was just a finalist, rather than a winner.

"But definitely exciting to hear the news from the New York Times' editors," she said.

The day the editors reached out to her was already a busy one for her – Yu was heading to the airport for an unrelated trip later that day, she said.

"[I] was at the airport kind of like replying to those emails," Yu said with a laugh.

'Proud to have it out there'

Yu submitted an interview with Heather Shilton, the director of Nunavut Nukkiksautiit Corporation. The pair spoke on climate change and renewable energy in Nunavut, a topic Yu thinks people her age should hear more about.

"It is obviously a pressing issue and in the news a lot so I think it's important to highlight the people that are making a difference and taking action," she said.

"Especially in parts of the world that maybe don't get as much attention."

Some of the questions Yu asks Shilton in the article are around myths about renewable energy in the Arctic, her thoughts on the movie Don't Look Up, and how she practices self-care while being a climate activist.

"I decided to design the questions around informing people and to motivating them to action," she said.

"Proud to have it out there, glad to have partnered with Heather on it."

For Yu, she has mixed feelings about what the future looks like in terms of climate change.

"There's definitely a lot of issues going on that do feel kind of threatening to our futures, not just climate change, but also mental health and other inequalities, especially up North where we're disproportionately impacted by climate change," she said.

But she does feel optimistic.

"I feel like we are moving forward," Yu said. "I feel like generally, the action that I'm seeing, and that's happening, does give me some sort of hope."

In terms of what's next for Yu's career, she said she'll be using her next few years of high school to think that through.

She said journalism is possible, though she is also pulled toward science, technology, engineering and math subjects, like environmental science.

"It's definitely been helpful to have these opportunities and also like different opportunities through my school and other things," she said.

"[I'm] exploring my interests right now and seeing what could be next."

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