Agnico-Eagle, GN’s education department, bring mining into Kivalliq classrooms
"To have Agnico step up and understand the connection to education is huge"
Students at the Jonah Amitnaaq Secondary School in Baker Lake are back in class.
But there’s something new this year for high school students: the program for students in Grade 10 to Grade 12 includes a week of class time during which they’ll learn about trades from workers at Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd., which owns the Meadowbank gold mine near Baker Lake and the Meliadine gold mine project near Rankin Inlet.
The week will also offer students course credits as part of a new joint pilot project between Agnico-Eagle, said Shelly Pepler, the executive director of Kivalliq school operations.
In addition to the week-long crash course in trades, two groups of students attending Grade 9 to Grade 11 in other Kivalliq communities will visit the Meadowbank gold mine site or the Meliadine camp for an overnight trip to meet and talk with Agnico-Eagle employees.
The program will rotate, so that next year, groups from other communities will participate.
All this flows from a memorandum-of-understanding that was signed last April at the Nunavut Mining Symposium in Iqaluit between Agnico-Eagle and the Government of Nunavut’s education department.
That agreement sees the company contributing $400,000 a year over three years towards in-school programs.
The hope is that these programs will inspire students to prepare for future jobs with Agnico-Eagle.
“It takes life and puts it into a classroom,” Pepler said.
“Mining Matters,” a science course used across Canada to teach younger students about mining, is also being tailored to become more Nunavut-specific so there’s more of a focus on rocks and minerals that are found in the territory.
The Department of Education also wants to develop ways to reach even younger kids, who could, for example, learn how to fit pipes together.
A community career fair is also planned for Baker Lake, to help students understand what careers are available in mining and mining-related fields.
“To have Agnico step up and understand the connection to education is huge,” Pepler said. “We see them as vested in these communities.”
As the partnership continues to develop, there will be more opportunities for students, Pepler said.
“I think we’re off to a good start,” she said.