Young people often entertain themselves with alpine activities during the winter months. It is harder to get to the mountain in the summertime, so the skateboarding area at the school is rarely empty. (Lasse Bak Mejlvang/Tomorrow Management) For the past 10 years, Sisimiut has had steady growth in its population. A big part of the newcomers are young people coming from smaller villages and townships in Greenland. (Lasse Bak Mejlvang/Tomorrow Management)
The focus on Greenland has for the past few years has mostly involved the nation’s minerals, oil and raw material. The country’s now former Prime Minister Aleqa Hammod halted any new oil drilling licenses in 2013 as drilling critics argued that extraction of raw materials could include high risks and and be more expensive than first expected.
Greenland is now once again faced with the big challenge of figuring out how the country’s economy is going to function in the future. Industrial fishing is still by far the nation’s largest industry and source of income. But this may also be in danger, in part due to climate change concerns.
With a population of roughly 56,000 people, Greenland is the least populated country in the world. According to data compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey, East Greenland may offer the most promise of undiscovered oil, gas and gas liquids, but drilling is expected to be concentrated on the country’s west coast due to its longer potential exploration season and comparably milder weather. The town of Sisimiut, located on the west coast of Greenland almost 200 miles north of the capital, Nuuk, is the nation’s fastest growing city economically.
Photojournalist Lasse Bak Mejlvang traveled to Sisimiut in 2014 to document the rise in the number of young people in the town, the hope of Greenland’s economy. Sisimiut has attracted an array of newcomers from nearby towns and villages, eager to take advantage of its wealth of raw materials and educational opportunities. Some have made Sisimuit their hometown, and even after having gone to work in other countries plan to return.
“The Olympics” is an annual tradition at the Sisimut high school. New students compete against the old ones in different sports like penguin soccer. With its 400 students, the high school is the biggest attraction in town for young people. (Lasse Bak Mejlvang/Tomorrow Management) Paninnguaq Rønning, 19, attends the local high school. Her dream for the future is to design her own clothing line and perhaps open her own shop. (Lasse Bak Mejlvang/Tomorrow Management) Arnarissoq Rasmussen, 11, attends the 7th grade at what is called School Number One. She dreams of one day being able to work as an actor or a waitress in Nuuk or Denmark. In her spare time, she takes care of the rabbits Hugo and Redicon. (Lasse Bak Mejlvang/Tomorrow Management) Fishing is still the largest occupation in both Greenland and Sisimiut. However, many youths dream of making a living in other lines of work, and look for an education in alternative fields.(Lasse Bak Mejlvang/Tomorrow Management) Hunting is still a big part of daily life in Greenland; it is common for young people to get their first kill at the age of 12.. Reindeer and buffalo are very common in the area around Sisimiut. (Lasse Bak Mejlvang/Tomorrow Management) Being outside and taking part in nature, both during the summer and the winter, is a big part of being young in Sisimiut. (Lasse Bak Mejlvang/Tomorrow Management) An unknown street artist decorates the concrete in and around Sisimiut with statements like ‘Join me if you wanna see the beauty of Greenland,” paired with a stencil of Darth Vader. Here, the inspiration is found in Batman and Gotham City. (Lasse Bak Mejlvang/Tomorrow Management) Uiloq Hendriksen, 16, is in high school. She also works in a candy shop and dreams of becoming a police officer or a stewardess. (Lasse Bak Mejlvang/Tomorrow Management) Rolf Olsen spends must of his summer building scooters to be ready for the winter season. He also has a passion for music and dreams of one day becoming an actor. (Lasse Bak Mejlvang/Tomorrow Management) Diskotek Starlight on a Friday night. Alcohol is very expensive in Greenland, and even more so in nightclubs, so private parties are very popular.( Lasse Bak Mejlvang/Tomorrow Management) The Danish government supports Greenland with the equivalent of $500 million each year. In time, the hope is that natural resources will make the country independent. (Lasse Bak Mejlvang/Tomorrow Management) Nuka Otto Rosing Thomsen, 22, hopes to get work on a trawler after finishing high school. (Lasse Bak Mejlvang/Tomorrow Management) (From left to right) Ane Møller, 23, and Nina Høegh Møller, 21, take a selfie a Friday evening in Sisimiut. Both are now studying in Denmark and plan to return and work in the city they grew up. (Lasse Bak Mejlvang/Tomorrow Management)