Ottawa wants input on how to improve post-secondary education in the North
New task force must present recommendations by winter’s end
Three Nunavummiut will sit on a new task force the federal government launched this month to look at how to improve post-secondary education across the North.
The initiative was one of the pledges outlined in the government’s Arctic and Northern Policy Framework. Specifically, the framework aims to close the gaps in education outcomes between northern and southern Canadians, and to provide learning and skills development opportunities for Northern students, including Indigenous knowledge.
A group of 13 leaders and education experts have been appointed to the task force. The group has $1 million and several months to draft recommendations on how to improve education outcomes across the North.
Task force members were nominated by northern governments and Indigenous organizations. Its Nunavut-based members are the following:
- Rebecca Mearns, the newly appointed acting president of Nunavut Arctic College
- Peesee Pitsiulak, the dean of the college’s Nunatta Campus
- James Takkiruq, a Nunavut Law Program student from Gjoa Haven
The other task force members are the following:
- Erika Marteleira, a manager with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami’s post-secondary education secretariat
- Jodie Lane, Nunatsiavut’s director of education
- Ashlee Cunsolo, the dean of the School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies at the Labrador Institute of Memorial University
- Tosh Southwick, a consultant and former associate vice-president of Indigenous engagement and reconciliation at Yukon University
- Florence Kushniruk, a post-secondary program officer at Champagne and Aishihik First Nation’s education department, in Yukon
- Shozrё Melanie Bennett, the executive director with the Yukon First Nations Education Directorate
- Kelsey Wrightson, the executive director of the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning in Yellowknife
- Malerie Bayha, a member of the Délı̨nę First Nation in the Northwest Territories
- Angélique Ruzindana Umunyana, a director with the Collège Nordique Francophone in Yellowknife
- James Cook, a business administration student at University College of the North in The Pas, Man.
No representatives were appointed from Nunavik.
The Task Force on Northern Post-Secondary Education is expected to deliver a first draft of its recommendations by the end of the winter.
“When more Canadians are able to continue their education, practise new skills, or learn on the job, they are better prepared to find and keep good jobs now, and in the future,” said Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal.
“When we look beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, the recommendations of this task force will be critical in shaping that recovery.”