Danielle Adjun from Kugluktuk has been named one of 25 recipients of the inaugural TD Scholarship for Indigenous Peoples, worth up to $15,000 a year, which she says will help her continue her studies toward a Sustainable Building Technology diploma at Okanagan College in British Columbia. (Photo courtesy of Danielle Adjun)

Kugluktuk woman dreams of building sustainable spaces for community

New scholarship to help Danielle Adjun study sustainable building technology

By Madalyn Howitt

Kugluktuk’s Danielle Adjun was partway through her studies at Okanagan College in British Columbia in May when she received devastating news.

Her father, Colin Adjun Jr., had died at the age of 56.

Known by many in the hamlet as “Nick” Adjun, he had been one of the youngest negotiators of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

He was also the son of the famed “Fiddler of the North,” Colin Adjun Sr., and a big supporter of his daughter’s goal to study sustainable building technology.

“He’s always been such a positive influence in my life,” she said.

Losing him was such a heartbreaking experience for the 30-year-old that it brought her nearly to the point of “giving up” on her schooling.

Two weeks after her father’s funeral, however, Adjun finally built up the courage to check her emails, “trying to get back into the swing of things,” she said.

She learned then that she had been chosen as one of 25 recipients of the inaugural TD Scholarship for Indigenous Peoples.

The scholarship gives each recipient $10,000 a year toward their studies for up to four years of their program, an additional $5,000 per year for living expenses, and places students with summer work opportunities with TD that align with their career aspirations.

The scholarship program is managed by AFOA Canada, an Indigenous-led not-for-profit focusing on fostering management, finance and governance skills.

It was a needed financial and motivational boost for Adjun during an emotional time.

“I’m very thankful to have received this scholarship, because during the summer months I usually need help with paying for rent” in Penticton, B.C., where she attends classes, she said.

Danielle Adjun, left, of Kugluktuk says her father Colin “Nick” Adjun Jr., right, was always a “big supporter” of her education before he died in May this year. (Photo courtesy of Danielle Adjun)

Adjun, one of two recipients from Nunavut along with Katelyn Kalai of Coral Harbour, is completing course upgrades to get herself up to speed with B.C.’s curriculum requirements, and will work toward a three-year diploma in sustainable building technology in September 2024.

The program teaches students the concepts of sustainable construction with hands-on building experience.

Adjun’s ultimate goal is to learn how to build sustainable structures that can last in Nunavut.

“The loss or the lack of infrastructure has always been one of my biggest concerns, because our community just doesn’t have places to go and things to do,” she said.

She was inspired to study sustainable building technology after her family experienced their own housing insecurities in Kugluktuk.

“We’ve been on our waiting list for almost a decade, and then having to deal with trying to have a full-time job and not having a home as an adult,” she said.

Seeing a grandparent sent down south for medical care also pushed her to learn more about sustainable building and how it can be implemented in the North.

“I’ve always known how devastating it is on their health,” she said, “having to be taken away from your homelands.”

One of her dreams is to use sustainable and creative building practices to construct an elders’ care centre in Kugluktuk and build other community spaces.

“Our elders should be able to spend the last days of their lives in their home territories with their families and their loved ones,” she said.

“Following my father’s footsteps in creating changes in Nunavut has always been a big goal of mine,” Adjun said.

“My father is watching over me right now. He pushed me to continue with my studies.”


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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Darlene on

    Wonderful news! So happy for you Avakana.

  2. Posted by ? on


  3. Posted by Barbara Adjun on

    My niece, I love you! You are a strong, independent women with dreams that you can accomplish! You can do! Dad and Grampa are always with you.

    • Posted by Barbara Adjun on

      *You can do it!

  4. Posted by 867 on

    Good luck and hopefully you graduate

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