Nunavut pulls financial support to Nunavut Sivuniksavut

"This funding had an end date to it, and the end date came"

Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Lightstone stands in the Nunavut legislature on March 11 to question ministers about the decision to end funding to the Ottawa-based Nunavut Sivuniksavut college program. (Photo by Jane George)

By Jane George

The Government of Nunavut has decided to end its financial support of the Ottawa-based Nunavut Sivuniksavut college program.

For the 2019-2020 fiscal year, NS will no longer receive $175,000 from the Government of Nunavut’s Family Services Department, as it has for the past three years.

It’s unclear what impact these cuts will have on the organization. Representatives could not be reached for comment.

The decision to end its financial support to NS first surfaced last week in the legislature’s committee of the whole on March 5, when MLAs looked at the department’s budget for 2019-20.

That’s when Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Lightstone said he had noticed that funding to NS was no longer in the budget.

Family Services Minister Elisapee Sheutiapik said that “as much as NS program is a great program, it does not fit into mine.”

“I’m not going to play around and wiggle and make something fit,” she said.

However, NS students will continue to receive financial assistance from the Financial Assistance for Nunavut Students or FANS program, she said.

Premier Joe Savikataaq noted that this funding contribution of $175,000 per year to NS had started prior to his government.

“I’m pretty sure that they operated on more than $175,000 a year, and I’m sure that they operated for many many years before three years ago, so this funding had an end date to it, and the end date came,” Savikataaq said.

The NS total budget stands at about $2.3 million, according to information on the Canadian Revenue Agency website. Of that, government funding accounts for about $1.7 million.

Discussions about money earmarked for Nunavut Sivuniksavut come as the Nunavut legislature prepares to end its winter sitting on Tuesday. (Photo by Jane George)

Savikataaq delivered the same message about the funding cut to NS on Monday in the legislature, where, during question period, he said the money in the Family Services Department will be earmarked for those who can’t go to NS and who need other programs to work towards a job at the GN.

He noted NS gets money from the Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corp.

Makigiaqta, formed in 2015, has $175 million from the settlement agreement with the Government of Canada to provide funding for training and programs to help Inuit obtain the skills and qualifications for employment.

The issue arose again in the legislature on Monday, when Sheutiapik repeated that NS is a good program but that it did not fit into family services, which focuses more on Nunavummiut in need.

The decision to cut NS funding was also criticized by former premier and Aggu MLA Paul Quassa, who said NS is a tool that the government should use to build Inuit employment levels in the public service.

Last July, NS launched a new program to help its graduates prepare for careers in Nunavut’s public service.

The new program is a collaboration between NS, Makigiaqta, Carleton University, the federal government and the GN.

At the time, the GN said that it would provide financial support to qualified students through the FANS program, while Makigiaqta would pay for NS to coordinate the program and support the students.

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(18) Comments:

  1. Posted by Fair Enough on

    I can see where it wouldn’t fit into, or doesn’t belong in, the Family Services budget.That seems fair enough. At the same time it is an important program and if anything should be expanded.

    • Posted by NSer on

      Family Services has a whole career development division. FANS and ALTS are FS programs. FS also funds training initiatives through similar contributions (College Foundations, Culinary Arts, Pre-Nursing, Office Administration at NAC, mine training in the NWT, Heavy Equipment Operator Training in Ontario, Skills NU, etc). How does this not fit within their scope of service?

      • Posted by Fair Enough on

        Strange that all those fall under the banner of Family Services, what a mess.

  2. Posted by Future Leaders on

    The NS program is an essential educational offer. The students become empowered, proud of their Inuit heritage and then move on to other eductional goals. The program is the foundation for strong, future leaders of Nunavut. Such a shame, the funding is being cut. Were the graduates becoming a threat to the existing leaders?

    • Posted by Laura on

      NS graduates are a threat to the current leaders? I like your sense of humor

    • Posted by ROI on

      What is the ROI for this program? 0? You have students that have been made aware of their culture, even though this should not require a program, and after completion, students are not qualified for anything else but maybe to become an IQ coordinator.
      I’m also sure “Ottawanien’s” have seen enough throat singling and drum dancing for a while

  3. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    Okay there seems to be some consensus that NS is required.

    Let me ask why the GN needs a two year program to prepare high school graduates for higher education at the college and university level?

    Yeah, the only reasonable answer is that a GN grade 12 education is equivalent to a grade 10 education available in any other province.

    GN – fix the real problem.

    • Posted by Nanuraq on

      NS also provides Inuit specific teaching that isn’t learned anywhere else. It isn’t simply because our education isn’t up to par. In indigenous studies in university Inuit aren’t mentioned and what we learn in high school does not cover any of this not just in Nunavut but all over Canada. It isn’t there simply because we aren’t smart enough because we are capable. It gives Inuit youth confidence and helps them achieve their full capabilities because many go there thinking they cannot achieve it because all they hear growing up is stuff like this. That we aren’t smart enough or good enough for post-secondary education. You can decide only to take one of the two years and come out with a certificate. The second year is for a different program that gives students credit at Carleton university

      • Posted by The Old Trapper on

        Thank you for your reply. Let me clarify a little so there is no misunderstanding. At no point did I say that Inuit kids could not handle the work, or were not smart enough. We both know that that type of argument is BS regardless of who is being discussed; Inuit, First Nations, African, Latin, Irish, Polish, Chinese, poor, disabled, LGBTQ, or whatever.

        You do prove my point though. The GN needs to do a better job. The GN has had complete control since 1999, and we see the exact same problems, which is now affecting a second generation.

        Why does the GN not have Inuit specific courses throughout K-12? What better way to preserve a proud heritage than learn about it every day? What about truancy? This is not a hard problem to solve. It is up to the parents to ensure their kids attend. You don’t have to fine parents, as if that would work anyways. What about peer pressure? Isn’t that what makes society work anyways? You can’t “hide” in most of the communities. And not only get good southern teachers, train locally – and pay & provide subsidized housing appropriately. When it comes right down to it the GN is providing housing for just about everyone anyways, use that creatively – local teachers should get nicer subsidized housing than other GN employees to encourage young adults to become teachers.

        A solid top notch education is one of the most important things we can give our youth – the GN needs to stop failing them.

  4. Posted by Amitturmiut on

    Thank you Nunavut Sivuniksavut, I hope it continues & find other funding, or put all the education learnt in this be used in Territorial Education for senior school students in the north as a credit course, so many students look forward to going to NS throughout Nunavut & now there’s Nunavik Sivuniksavut in Quebec also.
    On another note is there funding under Arctic College $5million for Greenland funding? GN Arctic College what’s that funding in Greenland for?

  5. Posted by Putuguk on

    According to the 2017 Family Services publication on the top 20 jobs in demand in Nunavut, only one requires a study focus on public administration (Senior Government Managers).

    NS funding would be mainly applicable to this career stream.

    If you look at the rest of the jobs on this list in this publication, to some extent or another, GN does provide financial support – the Trade School in Rankin, the Nursing and Social Services programs are but a few examples.

    This is good, as that funding will support our youth going into jobs where they are needed, in some cases desperately.

    What does appear to be a gap in support is financial administration. Fully 5 of the top 20 in demand jobs in Nunavut require training in accounting. This demand is only partially covered off by Management Studies and Office Admin programming.

    If GN had to strategically choose where else to put its funding effort to best use, supporting future cadres of Inuk accountants seems to be a sure bet.

  6. Posted by Ok on

    Why is NS an important program? And if it is, why is it in Ottawa?

    • Posted by iWonder on

      Why expect everyone else to do your thinking and research for you?

  7. Posted by Congratulations to the GN for showing some guts on

    Congratulations to Ms. Sheutiapik and to the GN for making a sensible and brave decision on an organization that does not need GN funding.

    I repeated, Nunavut Sivuniksavut does not need GN program funding. The usual FANS contributions to NS students are sufficient.

    NTI and the Inuit organizations should fund NS. NS is a creature of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and was started when NTI was known as Tungavik Federation of Nunavut. It is NTI’s responsibility to fund this program.

    NTI and all the Inuit organizations are rolling in tens of millions of dollars worth of mining royalties and this will soon turn into hundreds of millions when all the new gold mines get going. NTI also has something like 170 million dollars in its Makigiartiit training fund. NTI and the Inuit organizations should pay for this program themselves.

    The GN should put money into training of professionals that are really needed, like accountants, engineers, business management professionals, public administration professionals, medical professionals, qualified tradespersons. NS does not do any training like this, all they train are drum dancers are throat singers.

    If NS needs more money they should get iit from NTI and the Inuit organizations. Congratulations to Ms. Sheutiapik for an excellent decision.

  8. Posted by Ugh on

    Look into the back story of why the NS program was created. Then look at the success rate over the last 34 years. Then look at what graduates have accomplished over those 34 years since each of them have graduated and you will understand why the program is important, relevant and warrants GN support. Almost all of the comments on here are written in ignorance because you know nothing about the history of NS, why it was created in the first place, and how it has grown to be what it is today; a very very very important step for some before pursuing post-secondary education at southern institutions. Once you are aware of the whole picture, you may find yourself wondering why the GN made such a bad decision not to continue supporting them.

    • Posted by Rob M Adams on

      Under the FANS program, students who qualify receive $22k – $25K per year to cover costs of tuition, accommodation and travel related to NS. The loss of the $175K annual funding (~$3,500 per student) from FS is appropriate. From the article above: “Family Services Minister Elisapee Sheutiapik said that “as much as NS program is a great program, it does not fit into mine.”

      Around 500 students have completed the equivalent of a one-year high school immersion in Inuk humanities since the program’s inception in 1985. About 50 have gone on to complete a second year in the program, which is equivalent to first year in the Arts program at Carlton or another Canadian university. This is good. Very good, in fact.

      Though the program provides no Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (S.T.E.M.) or Accounting instruction it is still meaningful. We need students with an academic grounding in arts and humanities to become lawyers, entrepreneurs, human resource, communication and language specialists, elementary school teachers, and yes, S.T.E.M. graduates. Lots.

      Family Services, whose mandate is to focus on “Nunavummiut in need”, does not have to justify managing funding specific to NS opportunities. As others here have pointed out quite eloquently, there are more than enough sources for that. No one will be denied an NS opportunity because of this funding cut.

  9. Posted by Toonik’s Grandfather on

    Who esle would ask for 2 millionto buy a building and get it in a flash? Many refused funding in NU and accept the outcome at most times……except you know who. I think it is still a one man show with “only NS alumni” board. OK (mar. 13), your question is many parents concern, whole NS need a facelift asap.

  10. Posted by Crystal Clarity on

    I saw NS when it began and up to the present. I have followed the graduates over the years and the vast majority of them have graduated wonderfully confident successful Inuks, who went into higher level jobs, politics, Inuit Organisations, became entrepreneurs etc…. They were and are intelligent young people who probably would have not gotten the opportunities to advance in society and break through the Kablunaq glass ceiling as much as they have without this program. The program has many facets-Inuit History, The Land Claim, Inuktitut, Communication, Researching, Cultural Inclusion,,Poli-Sci,, Circumpolar World, Lobbying activities , business admin etc-there is a lot packed into that program and no one gets a free ride. They have to work hard and keep up otherwise they will have to leave the program. Some of the courses will also earn them Algonquin College credits.if it were possible every grade 12 grad would greatly benefit from this program. Don’t crap on the NS program. This program is absolutely a winner for young Inuks.

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