Aboriginal education benefits taken for granted


I’m writing this letter with the hope of bringing a message across to Inuit (northern residents) students from Nunavik now that school is over for the summer.

As land claim beneficiaries attending post-secondary schools and universities in southern Canada, we have the opportunity to pursue our education at absolutely no cost to us.

Our apartments are fully paid for, including furniture, heat and electricity. Our books are paid for. We are guided by student counsellors who schedule our courses. We are encouraged to study our books; and if we have troubles, the help is there.

Tutors are ready at all times to assist students at no cost. Also, no matter which Nunavik community we live in, our trips to the North and South are paid for. What an expensive thought!

My point is, today, namely in southern Canada, we see non-Inuit or southern Canadian students flipping hamburgers, planting trees, washing car windows on the streets, or serving on tables in restaurants and bars to earn the money they need to pay for their education. It’s disappointing to see Nunavik students not having to pay a penny, not appreciating the opportunity our friends lack in southern Canada.

We see so many people go through very expensive programs only to throw their education away, or not get a diploma. Where is that sense of pride?

Who can say, “I worked so hard for my education, I want to keep my job,” or “I’m so fortunate to have the advantage of my education paid for, I want to stay in school and bring positive results back to my home;” or, “I’m so lucky to have completed my education and very lucky to have a job, I want to do my best to keep my job and stay healthy.”

All too often, we take what we’ve been given for granted.

I would like to see students take on part-time jobs just to see how hard it can be for our southern neighbors, just to to appreciate the advantage we have of fully sponsored education. Perhaps Nunavik students could work a certain number of hours per week for their allowance.

I would like more northeners to realize that we have to work hard to reach our goals, and that most individuals spend their time and energy building a ladder to a higher education that is already there for us to climb, but don’t.

Maybe the drop-out rate would drop if students were given some responsibilities while attending school down South. At least it would give them a sense of responsibility for their lives, which seems to be lacking in a lot of people — adults included — in this new world we are living in.

Maggie Putulik

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