Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic May 17, 2016 - 12:15 pm

Global exposure: Nunavut Sivuniksavut students visit the UN

“The presence of NS students really augmented the Inuit presence as a whole”

THOMAS ROHNER
Nunavut Sivuniksavut students got a private briefing earlier this month on the workings of the UN from Dalee Sambo Dorough, chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and an associate professor of political science at the University of Alaska. Dorough has a long history of direct involvement in the negotiation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or UNDRIP. From left to right: Dalee Sambo Dorough, Anny Chislett of Iqaluit, Tamara Takpannie of Ottawa, and Robert Adam Akpik of Iqaluit. (PHOTO COURTESY OF NS)
Nunavut Sivuniksavut students got a private briefing earlier this month on the workings of the UN from Dalee Sambo Dorough, chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and an associate professor of political science at the University of Alaska. Dorough has a long history of direct involvement in the negotiation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or UNDRIP. From left to right: Dalee Sambo Dorough, Anny Chislett of Iqaluit, Tamara Takpannie of Ottawa, and Robert Adam Akpik of Iqaluit. (PHOTO COURTESY OF NS)
Adam Akpik of Iqaluit, a second-year Nunavut Sivuniksavut student, had a one-to-one conversation with Carolyn Bennett, minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, prior to her speech earlier this month announcing Canada's position on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. NS students visited Canada's UN mission in New York City and met with Bennett and Canada's ambassador to the UN, Marc-André Blanchard. (PHOTO COURTESY OF NS)
Adam Akpik of Iqaluit, a second-year Nunavut Sivuniksavut student, had a one-to-one conversation with Carolyn Bennett, minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, prior to her speech earlier this month announcing Canada's position on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. NS students visited Canada's UN mission in New York City and met with Bennett and Canada's ambassador to the UN, Marc-André Blanchard. (PHOTO COURTESY OF NS)
Nunavut Sivuniksavut students discussing the Canadian government's new position on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with Natan Obed, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, outside of the UN building in New York City. (PHOTO COURTESY OF NS)
Nunavut Sivuniksavut students discussing the Canadian government's new position on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with Natan Obed, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, outside of the UN building in New York City. (PHOTO COURTESY OF NS)

Just before graduating from the two-year advanced studies program at Nunavut Sivuniksavut in Ottawa May 15, the 2016 graduating class went where no other NS class had gone before: to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City.

The seven students who took the six-day trip from May 8 to May 13 participated in the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus at UN headquarters.

“It’s been an excellent trip, just wonderful down here,” the veteran NS instructor Murray Angus told Nunatsiaq News from New York May 13, hours before he and the students returned to Ottawa.

“We weren’t just tourists — we were involved with meetings and discussions throughout the week. It was quite an eye-opener for the students, I think, to witness and experience and be engaged from the inside.”

Unfortunately Nunatsiaq News was not able to get immediate comment from the students who have been busy preparing for their May 15 graduation, when family and friends gathered to celebrate the 2015-16 graduating class.

Shortly before their trip to the UN youth caucus, the class spent 10 days in New Zealand learning about the indigenous Maori culture. 

Once the students got over their jet lag, Angus said the students increasingly contributed to the meetings and discussions in New York.

“The presence of NS students really augmented the Inuit presence as a whole within the global Indigenous caucus. Before the students joined, there were only one or two Inuit,” Angus said.

The trip gave students an opportunity to see the UN in action, the teacher said, especially how it deals with Indigenous peoples’ issues.

To that end, NS students exchanged stories and views with Indigenous youth from around the world, from regions like South America, Asia and the Nordic countries.

“I think it helped them appreciate the unique circumstances in Nunavut and Canada, and also to see similarities with Indigenous youths from all over the world,” Angus said.

A trip by NS students in 1990 to the UN headquarters in New York for a mock general assembly didn’t go quite as well as this trip, Angus said, because of a lack of time to prepare.

But this time, students were well prepared, Angus said.

In large part, students have Canada World Youth, an international non-government organization fostering youth leadership around the globe, to thank.

The organization approached NS and offered to pay for most of the students and staff to attend the youth caucus, Angus said.

And for Angus, who after 25 years at NS said he is “graduating” himself this year, it was a fitting end to a long and celebrated career at the Inuit-specific junior college.

“It’s a wonderful way to bring an end to my own career: to see our students on the international stage,” Angus said.

Email this story to a friend... Print this page... Bookmark and Share

 THIS WEEK’S ADS

 ADVERTISING