KSB plans “Nunavik Sivuniksavut” for Inuit youth
“NS is about teaching leadership”
Nunavik high school graduates may soon get a made-in-Nunavik option to pursue post-secondary studies.
The Kativik School Board is working towards a Nunavik version of the successful Nunavut Sivuniksavut, the college-level program for Inuit students, which is based in Ottawa.
Nunavik’s students could benefit from a similar program based on their own region’s history, said Elias Moukannas, an academic advisor at Kativik School Board.
“NS is about teaching leadership [to Inuit students], teaching them to express their opinions, to be independent and confident,” Moukannas said. “You have to be able to understand your culture in order to talk about it.”
Those skills will help to nurture the future leaders in the region, he added.
Nunavik Sivuniksavut, as the program would be called, could open its doors in the fall of 2012.
The program will be based in Montreal because students have identified that they benefit from the independence gained in being away from home, Moukannas said.
“Everyone’s in support of this,” Moukannas said. “It’s just about finding the funding.”
Last December, KSB commissioners passed a resolution to support the creation of the program after a presentation from Nunavut Sivuniksavut staff from Ottawa.
Moukannas couldn’t put a price tag on the launch of such a program, but said money would be needed to pay for renting a space, materials, hiring about three staff and for the students’ travel and lodging expenses.
The KSB is contributing its own in-house expertise.
The school board has also requested some funding from the Ungaluk (Safer Communities) program.
But the program already has support from two Nunavik students, who studied at Nunavut Sivuniksavut in Ottawa two years ago.
Anne-Marie Aitchison and Janice Grey-Scott completed the eight-month program and both think something similar should be available to other students from the region.
“NS was, hands down, the best thing I’ve ever done for myself,” said Grey-Scott. “I learned more about myself as a person, as a young Inuk and as someone within a larger political context, in terms of land claims and the impacts of them.
“I found the ability to speak my mind… I became an ambassador for Inuit in my day-to-day life.”
Grey-Scott went on to study at Montreal’s John Abbott college; she attended a UN climate change conference last year as a Inuit youth delegate and then spearheaded a petition for the relocation of Montreal’s Nunavik House.
“I would definitely recommend this program to other Nunavimmiut,” she said.
Nunavut Sivuniksavut, which has been running for 25 years, offers its students courses on land claims, Inuit history, contemporary issues, understanding politics and the Inuktitut language.
There is also a community outreach component that helps students prepare cultural presentations to different groups around the city.
Founded 1985 by the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut to train fieldworkers to inform Nunavut communities on the progress of land claim agreements, Nunavut Sivuniksavut evolved into a program to help Inuit students prepare to go on to college, university or jobs.
Today, it’s an accredited college program, affiliated with Ottawa’s Algonquin College in Ottawa.