Iqaluit teen receives Uppinaqtuq award for her accomplishments
"It felt so good"
A dozen people crowded into a small boardroom at the law society office June 13 in Iqaluit to see Alookie Korgak, a 14 year-old Aqsarniit middle school student, receive an award.
Korgak is one of four youth from around the territory to receive a Nunavut Law Foundation’s Upinnaqtuq awards ( uppinnaqtuq’ meaning “to celebrate a person’s accomplishments” or “person you are proud of”).
The purpose of the Uppinaqtuq awards: to recognize youth like Korgak for their leadership and personal improvement.
“I was kind of surprised. I know I changed over the years from Grade Six to Grade Eight, [so] it felt so good to know that I changed,” said Korgak, who, among other activities, plays forward on her school’s soccer team.
The Grade Eight student’s nominations included four letters from different teachers.
Korgak’s mother, Sarah Korgak, said she was speechless when she found out about the award, but “very happy, very proud. I had a few tears because of the joy of it.”
The $500 award was created to commemorate the work of Justice Beverly Browne, who worked in Nunavut until 2009 and was the first senior judge of the Nunavut Court of Justice.
Browne worked closely with youth, said administrator Nalini Vaddapalli, who is also the head of the Law Society of Nunavut.
“She [Browne] was very committed to the community and committed to working with the youth,” she said.
The award recognizes qualities of leadership in conflict resolution or where “remarkable progress in rehabilitation” is shown, Vaddapalli said, adding that the winners can provide a positive inspiration to other youth.
The foundation received a total of seven nominations this year.
“We’re so happy this year that even the high arctic communities like Grise Fiord did submit a nomination,” Vaddapalli said.
The youth chosen “have skills as leaders, they’re able to move forward some of the conflicts within their school, within the community, and they’re all under 18, I mean this is just tremendous,” she said.
The big turnout of support for Korgak “just shows how people are, that family in the territory are behind their kids and their youth, they are there, they are offering guidance.”
In order to qualify for the award, youth need to be nominated by a principal, teacher, counselor or another community representative.
“It’s not just kids who are at school but also perhaps kids who got out of school but they’re getting back on track getting their life organized, we also want to support that as well,” Vaddapalli said.