New website aims to guide post-secondary Inuit students

Testimonies and practical information can be found on the Tukitaarvik website


If you’re an Inuk high school graduate from Nunavut or Nunavik who’s getting ready to leave home for post-secondary studies or you’re already studying at a college, technical school or university, there’s a new website is for you.

On the Tukitaarvik Inuit Student Centre website — for now in English only — you can listen to video interviews with Inuit who have pursued post-secondary studies or who are still studying.

“It was a pretty big adjustment,” says Puujjuut Kusugak, the mayor of Rankin Inlet, who first left home as a 16-year-old to study in Toronto and later attended Arctic College in Iqaluit, earning an masters degree in education from McGill University.

Keeping contact with home during those years of study was important for Kusugak, as well for Maatalii Okalik-Syed of Pangnirtung, now in her final year of a Bachelors degree program at Carleton University.

Okalik-Syed and her friends often talk together, she says, and they always try to “remind ourselves who we are.”

On the Tukitaarvik website you can also hear Natan Obed, the director of social and cultural development at Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., talk about his university education at Tufts University in Boston.

There, Obed, who majored in English and Aboriginal studies, said “I really tried hard.” As a result, Obed tells how he’s been able to realize his ambition to contribute to Inuit society.

On the website you can also discuss various topics or even get in contact with some of the northern students, like Pam Gross of Cambridge Bay and Hay River in the Northwest Territories, a third-year student at Carleton University, who helped develop the website.

This website also explain the post-secondary application process to “break down the challenges you may face.”

These challenges “can range from financial to emotional, and there aren’t always easy answers. How do you find a school? How do you get there? How do you pass your exams? We will do our best to answer the questions you have, both big and small,” the website says.

You’ll also find information videos, such as a “Day in a Student’s Life” video on a student’s life at Carleton University, “What to Expect,” which “walks you through the different stages you might experience as you adapt to the post-secondary experience” and “A guide to preparing for postsecondary education,” which provides tips on how to choose a program, register, budget, and manage your time.

There’s also a section on bursaries and scholarships for Inuit and aboriginal students.

The website, developed and paid for by the ArcticNet research network, is part of a larger project on post-secondary studies among Inuit, led by Thierry Rodon, a Laval university professor and instructor with Carleton University.

Among other things, the three-year project will make recommendations on how to establish a northern university and improve Inuit access to post-secondary education.

The project’s other partners include Cégep Marie-Victorin, First Air, Kativik School Board, the Nunavut General Monitoring Plan, Nunavut Sivuniksavut and Université Laval.

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