But, 27 year-old Hernandez grew up in Yellowknife, capital of Canada’s Northwest Territory (NWT). His parents moved to Yellowknife separately – his mother from the Philippines and his father from Nicaragua – they met there, raising Moses and his brother Aaron in one of Canada’s most northern cities.

Hernandez has taken time to learn about his heritage, having visited his father’s family in Nicaragua and travelled in Central America. But now, his focus is on the North, where he grew up.

With an interest in youth leadership in the North and within Indigenous communities in particular, Hernandez is now taking part in the Arctic Studies Program (ASP) at the University of Lapland, in Rovaniemi, Finland. 
“There aren’t many youth leaders in Yellowknife right now,” said Hernandez, who became interested in youth leadership through traveling with his brother, Aaron who is a hip hop artist in the NWT. Aaron ‘Godson’ Hernandez travels throughout Canada’s north, putting on concerts and workshops for youth.

Hernandez pointed out that despite there being industrial development in the north, there’s not much of a
“trickle down effect” to provide cultural benefits for communities and youth.

“Youth are not learning about their culture anymore, and there has to be a way to keep that component a part of their lives,” said Hernandez. “For me, the big issues are any environmental, industrial, or political effects that make it more difficult to preserve aboriginal culture.”

In this respect, travelling to another part of the Circumpolar World has been a great experience for Hernandez – allowing him to see what other communities are doing to keep their culture alive.

“I feel like I’m learning about real northern issues.”

He first heard about ASP from a professor at St. Francis Xavier University, in Nova Scotia, Canada, where he studied political science and aquatic studies. After graduating with his BA, Hernandez returned to Yellowknife, but the idea of Arctic Studies stayed in his mind.

Hernandez has now taken time off from his job as a policy analyst for the government of the Northwest Territories, in order to take part in the ASP program. When he returns to his job Hernandez is certain he'll have some exciting research projects to work on, based on what he’s learned in Finland.

“I feel like I’m learning about real northern issues, not just proving that I can write an essay,” said Hernandez about the program. He added that, “it’s important to have a northern-focused program that keeps you in the north.”

“It’s kind of cool to be an international student.”

The transition from living in the NWT to living in Finland hasn’t been that difficult for Hernandez. “It’s a very manageable lifestyle…It’s kind of cool to be an international student,” he said of the experience so far.

The combination of short, intensive courses and a healthy lifestyle is great for Hernandez: “At least for me, I know it’s going to work out better, it’s easy to give all your attention to one course.”