Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic May 18, 2016 - 1:30 pm

NS students learn about Nunavut, and also themselves

“It’s embedded in us. It’s in our hearts”

JIM BELL
More than two dozen first- and second-year students pose for a group shot at their graduation ceremony in Ottawa May 15. (PHOTOS BY JIM BELL)
More than two dozen first- and second-year students pose for a group shot at their graduation ceremony in Ottawa May 15. (PHOTOS BY JIM BELL)
Pakak Picco and proud dad Ed Picco, of Iqaluit, look sharp at the NS graduation last weekend in Ottawa.
Pakak Picco and proud dad Ed Picco, of Iqaluit, look sharp at the NS graduation last weekend in Ottawa.
Second-year student Adam Aqpik of Iqaluit and his proud mum, Pauyungie Aqpik.
Second-year student Adam Aqpik of Iqaluit and his proud mum, Pauyungie Aqpik.

OTTAWA — Though their instructors like to talk about all the long days spent on academic study, Nunavut Sivuniksavut students like to talk about how the program helped them grow on the inside.

“It’s what we learned about ourselves that I will take away,” second-year student Adam Aqpik of Iqaluit said May 15 at the organization’s graduation ceremony held inside the Wabano Aboriginal Health Centre in Ottawa.

“The courses are so rich, and we have all grown,” he said

More than two dozen first- and second-year students from Nunavut, Nunatsiavut and the Inuvialuit region received certificates at an event held before nearly 200 family members, supporters and friends.

Many students said they learned valuable life skills over the past year, became more emotionally resilient and developed confidence in their Inuit identity.

“Prior to NS, I didn’t really know what it meant to be Inuk,” said Harry Nowdlak of Iqaluit.

Hayden Stewart, a beneficiary of the Inuvialuit land claim agreement from Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories, said what he learned about himself and his identity at NS will remain with him for the rest of his life.

“Everything that’s been embedded in us can be replayed over and over again. It’s embedded in us. It’s in our hearts,” Stewart said.

Others said their time at NS has helped expand their knowledge of the world.

“Many thank-yous for helping me to see there is life outside a small town,” Avery Keenainak of Pangnirtung said.

The event also marked the retirement of this year’s “last graduate,” Murray Angus, a founding instructor and co-ordinator who helped start NS in 1984.

“Murray is someone I looked up to a lot,” Aqpik said.

In his farewell remarks, Angus said he leaves NS with a profound sense of gratitude to the board members at the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut who brought him into the project in 1984.

“They just wanted something done that would be good,” Angus said.

Starting that year, it served as a training program for the TFN with a budget of about $270,000 a year.

Now, it’s a highly-respected junior college serving young Inuit from Nunavut and other regions of Inuit Nunangat.

Two of this year’s graduates come from Nunatsiavut, and one from the Inuvialuit region.

The next big NS project will be fundraising for the acquisition or construction of a residence in Ottawa capable of housing all first-year students under one roof.

Right now, the organization leases a collection of apartments from private landlords — under standard 12-month leases — for which students pay rent during the NS program’s eight-month period.

Harry Flaherty, president of Qikiqtaaluk Corp., said a recent fundraising event organized by the Qikiqtaaluk group of companies raised $7,000 for the proposed residence.

He said that’s a small amount of money, but it’s enough to start a foundation aimed at raising the estimated $2 million that NS will need to finance its new residence.

About 450 young Inuit have graduated from NS since its first graduation in 1985.

Parents, friends and supporters take many photos when Nunavut Sivuniksavut's graduates danced and sang at the end of their graduation celebration in Ottawa May 15 at the Wabano Centre. (PHOTO BY JIM BELL)
Parents, friends and supporters take many photos when Nunavut Sivuniksavut's graduates danced and sang at the end of their graduation celebration in Ottawa May 15 at the Wabano Centre. (PHOTO BY JIM BELL)
Email this story to a friend... Print this page... Bookmark and Share

 THIS WEEK’S ADS

 ADVERTISING