Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut August 23, 2016 - 7:00 am

Young, ambitious Nunavut single mom wins Baffin scholarship

Neoma Cox, 22, earns this year's John Amagoalik Journalism Scholarship

LISA GREGOIRE
Neoma Cox and daughter Brianna Aug. 19 during a family trip to her father, Andrew Cox's, cabin. Cox, who won this year's Qikiqtani Inuit Association John Amagoalik Journalism Scholarship, said she's going to Arctic College to give herself, and her daughter, a better life. (PHOTO BY VERA JONES)
Neoma Cox and daughter Brianna Aug. 19 during a family trip to her father, Andrew Cox's, cabin. Cox, who won this year's Qikiqtani Inuit Association John Amagoalik Journalism Scholarship, said she's going to Arctic College to give herself, and her daughter, a better life. (PHOTO BY VERA JONES)

She wanted to stay in school, despite raising a toddler, but she wasn’t sure she had enough money to do so.

Then the father of Nunavut stepped in to help.

Neoma Cox is this year’s recipient of the 2016 Qikiqtani Inuit Association’s John Amagoalik Journalism Scholarship — as chosen by Amagoalik and officials at the QIA.

“I feel like I’ve been recognized by him. I feel pretty honoured that he helped to choose me,” Cox said Aug. 22.

“I want to teach my daughter more than what I learned in school about Inuit history, what our leaders did to get us where we are today.”

Amagoalik is often referred to as the father of Nunavut thanks to his years of political leadership and commitment to Inuit society both before and after the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement was signed. It’s why the QIA created a scholarship in his honour.

Cox, a 22-year-old Iqalungmiut, learned about Inuit culture from hunting with her father Andrew Cox as a child.

But now she’s passionate as well about Inuit history, something she said she didn’t truly understand until she attended the Nunavut Sivuniksavut college program in Ottawa.

Cox is also keen to show her two-year-old daughter Brianna that you can’t just give up when faced with challenges.

“I was scared to be a young mom that couldn’t afford to have the right education so I could get a good job to keep us having a good life. So she’s my biggest motivation to keep going. I want to be a good role model for,” Cox said.

“What I really want is to show her to push as far as she can and never stop until she reaches what she really wants.”

A recent news release announcing the scholarship recipient included praise from both Amagoalik and P.J. Akeeagok, the president of QIA.

‘’My congratulations goes to Neoma Cox as the second recipient of the scholarship,” Amagoalik said in the release.

“I hope more young people will pursue the field of work that promotes the Inuit culture. I am sure that they would find that a career as radio, television, print reporter or in the field of environment, culture and language rewarding and fulfilling.”

Cox has completed the one-year NS program as well as a two-year office administration diploma at Nunavut Arctic College. But after graduation, the thought of working in a government office no longer appealed to her.

So she decided to apply to Arctic College’s Environmental Technology Program in the hopes of changing gears and aiming for a job that involves being outside, on the land, or at least related to science, the environment and wildlife in some way.

As such, she’s not actually a journalist, but that’s okay.

The $5,000 scholarship, launched in May 2015, is awarded annually to a beneficiary student from the Qikiqtaaluk region pursuing a post-secondary journalism program or another field that “promotes Inuit language and culture,” said the QIA news release.

Cox said without the scholarship, she wasn’t sure how she was going to stay in school and keep her daughter in daycare which costs, even with a subsidy, about $650 to $700 per month alone.

This scholarship might have made the difference between going to school and not, she said. She’s very grateful to the QIA for giving her the opportunity.

Before she went to NS, she didn’t know much about John Amagoalik, or the struggle Inuit endured negotiating the largest comprehensive land claim agreement in Canada.

But armed with ambition, determination and positive energy, Cox seems poised to continue that very tradition of Inuit resilience.

“I want to make sure my daughter has her home, where she grew up, so that she gets to experience everything Inuit are able to — like hunting animals. I want that for my grandkids and great-grandkids,” she said.

Cox said the environmental technology program will help her work for the benefit of Inuit into the future — at least that’s what she wrote in the essay which helped her win the QIA scholarship.

“For thousands of years Inuit have survived because of the animals that not only provided them with food to eat but with clothing to wear, tools to build and hunt with, and basic necessities that helped them create it all,” she wrote.

“Nunavut means ‘Our Land,’ and my goal is to keep it that way. Not only to keep it, but improve it, sustain it, and keep it here for thousands of years to come.”

She said she’s hoping to do that through a job in one of several possible fields including resource development and management, fish and wildlife conservation, environmental protection, parks management, waste management and environmental research and education.

And she said hopes one day she has the courage to introduce herself to Amagoalik whom she sees, from time to time, in Iqaluit. But at this point, it’s just too intimidating, she said.

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