Go to college, premier Okalik urges graduates


IQALUIT — Premier Paul Okalik urged this year’s high school graduates to pursue their education at a higher level so that they will be able to take their place, in turn, as leaders of Canada’s young territory.

“You are one of the first graduating classes in Nunavut. This is quite an achievement,” Okalik said last weekend in his address to the Class of 1999 at Inukshuk High School in Iqaluit. “This honour, though, carries with it a burden. Much is expected and hoped of you. You will become the leaders of the next generation and you must be ready.”

Okalik reminded the graduates that Nunavut will need doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers and geologists, and other trained professionals.

“Continue on to college and university,” he urged. “I was a student of life, but that wasn’t enough. Late in my 20s, I realized I needed a formal education if I wanted to accomplish what I though I could for Nunavut.”

Okalik suggested the 23 graduates find an elder, a teacher, a friend or relative, “someone you admire, someone you can learn from,” to be role models for their own lives.

“It could be someone you don’t personally know,” said Okalik. “For me, I’m often inspired by the words of the great African leader Nelson Mandela. Everyone needs a role model in their lives. They show us the kinds of people we can be.”

The graduates, represented by their class valedictorian Colleen Healey, also thanked the families present for their support.

Many students received prizes honouring their academic, athletic and social achievements. Approximately half the graduates will be continue their education at Arctic College, Ottawa’s Nunavut Sinuviksavut program and universities in the South.

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