Nunavut Arctic College grads celebrate accomplishments
May 18 ceremony tinged with sad memories of Creekside fire
A total of 74 graduating students received Nunavut Arctic College diplomas and certificates in Iqaluit May 17, with an array of speakers offering congratulations, including Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak, board chair Frank Pearce and the new president of the college, Mike Shouldice.
“To our graduates I wish you the very best for the future. This is an accomplishment you will remember for all of your life,” Shouldice said, speaking to students at the Nunatta campus in Iqaluit.
“This year, when we needed it the most, we learned we were not alone,” said Shouldice, referring to the Feb. 26 fire in Iqaluit that killed two adult children of an Arctic College student. “We learned just how strong we can be and how much we can accomplish, even in hard times. We learned what it means to be a family.”
Shouldice also touched on the need for more graduates in the expanding territory.
“Nunavut is growing. There are many new opportunities for our young people today which are very different from 25 years ago. The world is at our doorstep,” he said.
Aariak echoed these sentiments, saying “improving education and training outcomes is a key priority for our government. In the coming years, we will see more and more opportunity in Nunavut.”
Aariak also talked about two adult children who died in a fire that swept through a housing unit rented to an Arctic College student who was their mother.
“You have endured unexpected hardship this year with the tragic loss of two [children] of your fellow student,” said Aariak. “The way you pulled together to support one another has been truly inspiring.”
“All of you have surmounted obstacles and have made remarkable sacrifices to be sitting where you are today. You should all be very proud.”
The same messages of pride were conveyed at the Kivalliq Campus at Rankin Inlet May 16. There, campus dean David Ittinuar talked about the sacrifices students make to earn an education, such as moving away from families and travelling great distances.
“Everyone in this year’s graduating class has had to make this kind of life-changing decision and you must be happy with this achievement,” he said
Students graduated from many programs, the greatest number of graduates coming from one-year certificate programs in environment technology and fur production and design, with nine graduates each, and trade access with 10 graduates.
From the two-year diploma programs, the largest numbers of graduates came from environmental technology and Inuit studies.