Nunavik Sivunitsavut moves from pilot to fully fledged program
“I hope to gain true self pride”
Olivia Ikey Duncan had a less-than-positive first experience in post-secondary school, but she wanted to give it another go.
After a career in employment services and a stint with Nunavik’s Qarjuit Youth Council, Duncan decided to apply to the region’s new Montreal-based college program, Nunavik Sivunitsavut.
That meant uprooting her family from Kuujjuaq and moving south for the year, but she believes it will pay off.
“It is very different than furthering your education at home, where you are comfortable and have a routine,” Ikey Duncan said. “It’s a huge adjustment.”
“Some of it is very hard but it gives me an understanding of my presumed place in this world and how to make my place as an Inuit in 2018 and beyond,” she said.
“I hope to gain true self-pride. I hope to learn about the fight my people have and to continue the fight for my child and my grandparents.”
A group of 20 students has begun the second year of Nunavik Sivunitsavut, run by Kativik Ilisarniliriniq and modelled after its veteran Nunavut counterpart based in Ottawa.
The new cohort settled into classes on Sept. 10 at the program’s headquarters, currently located in Avataq Cultural Institute’s Westmount office.
This year’s class is made up of 17 women and two men—no men graduated from the program’s first year.
Program coordinators say that word of mouth is the most powerful tool for letting Nunavimmiut know about NS. One of the requirements for last year’s students was to do presentations on NS in their home communities.
Thirteen of the 18 students who enrolled in the first year graduated from the program last May. One of them, Mary Saunders, is now working as the program’s administrative assistant.
The program has made some tweaks this year. While students last year took six courses over two 15-week semesters, the schedule has been altered this year to resemble more of a university calendar.
Now students have a five-course workload spread out over two 12-week semesters. To make up for the shorter semesters, students are in class for longer periods during the day, from about 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
All of the program’s courses are accredited through John Abbott CEGEP, an English-language college in Montreal.
NS staff are in the process of developing a full diploma program for the program.
“We’re trying things,” said James Vandenberg, an education consultant at NS. “It’s a young program. We get formal feedback from the students a couple of times a year.”
As a pilot project, NS received funding through the federal Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
Now the program’s operations are largely funded through Quebec’s Ministry of Education—$528,000 this year—plus contributions from both Makivik Corp. and the Kativik Regional Government.