2 Nunavut teachers earn education awards

Monica Ittusardjuat, Nadia Sammurtok receive honours from Indspire

Inuktitut language expert Monica Ittusardjuat, left, and Nunavut teacher Nadia Sammurtok have received 2023 Indigenous educator awards from Indspire for their work promoting Inuit culture and language. (Photos courtesy of Indspire)

By Madalyn Howitt

Two teachers in Nunavut are getting their laurels from Indspire for their work promoting Inuit language and culture.

Monica Ittusardjuat from Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet’s Nadia Sammurtok each received Guiding the Journey: Indigenous Educator awards from Indspire at the National Gathering for Indigenous Education in Montreal on Wednesday. 

The awards recognize Indigenous educators, one Indigenous organization and one non-Indigenous educator who have made valuable contributions to community-based education and who honour the principles of Indigenous knowledge, a statement on Indspire’s website reads. 

Ittusardjuat, an Inuktitut language expert and Inuktitut editor at Inhabit Education in Iqaluit, taught Inuktitut in elementary and high schools and the Nunavut Teacher Education Program at Nunavut Arctic College. 

She has also worked at Nunavut Arctic College’s Inuktitut Centre of Excellence teaching Inuktitut linguistics at the Interpreter/Translator and Inuit Studies program, and worked at the National Inuit Organization for the unification of the Inuktut writing system. 

She said winning the award has felt “humbling.”

“I was so honoured to be given this award,” she said, speaking by phone from Montreal. 

Reflecting on her long career in education, Ittusardjuat said she was reminded of a student who was taking an Inuktitut summer course at Nunavut Arctic College. The student had not completed high school and was struggling to pick up Ittusardjuat’s orthology and phonology lessons, and nearly quit the course. Ittusardjuat said she worked closely with the student to understand her frustrations and her way of thinking. 

“It was a learning process. So in the end, she passed [the course] and then she started writing children’s books. That meant a lot to me,” she said. 

She added that the student also eventually went on to teach Inuktitut at the college. 

“I thank the students that I used to have in school, the teacher education program, the translator program and Inuktitut language courses that I’ve taught. Thank you very much for the experience,” Ittusardjuat said. 

Fellow award recipient Sammurtok is a published author and has written several children’s books that focus on her Inuit culture and Inuit societal values. 

She has also helped develop various Inuit and Inuktitut resources for use in Nunavut’s schools. 

The other recipients of this year’s award are: Lisa Michano-Courchene of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation in Ontario, Loretta Dykun in Thompson, Man., and Fort Chipewyan Community High School in Alberta. 

Award recipients also received a gift of $1,000 to be used towards classroom needs and an all-expense-paid trip to the awards ceremony in Montreal. 

The Rideau Hall Foundation also sponsored 100 Indigenous post-secondary education students from across the country to attend the National Gathering, including Nunavut Arctic College student Gloria Issumatarjuak from Pond Inlet.

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(2) Comments:

  1. Posted by Sharon McAlpine on

    Congratulations to both of you! I am fairly new in Iqaluit and so happy to read if this honor! You both should be very proud of yourselves!

  2. Posted by education worker on

    Nadia is awesome! So happy for her!

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