Quebec showers benefits on Nunavik students

Inuit students from Nunavik live luxurious lives compared to their counterparts from Nunavut.


MONTREAL — Although Nunavut’s post-secondary students receive uncertain support, their counterparts in Nunavik will never lack for money.

Post-secondary students from Nunavik never have to worry about where their next meal is going to come from.

Thanks to an agreement signed between Nunavik’s Kativik School Board and the Quebec provincial government in the 1980s, every beneficiary of the James Bay and Northern Quebec land claim agreement has access to a generous goody-bag stuffed with educational benefits.

There’s no ceiling on the number of students who can receive benefits, and seemingly no end to the support that the province of Quebec provides.

For example, post-secondary students in Montreal have their rent paid, and receive an additional $240 for food and incidental expenses every two weeks. They also get an additional $18 every two weeks if they have to put coins in a coin-operated laundry machine.

Students at John Abbott College live in the Kativik School Board’s own residence for their first year of study. Students’ every basic need is met, from food to phone calls home to bus passes — and they still get $40 a week in pocket money.

During their first year, students also attend workshops on how to manage money, time and stress. They receive a thorough orientation to urban life, and join in regular recreational excursions, such as visits to nearby waterslides and Imax theatres.

Tutoring and counselling are also available at the residence.

“Over the years we have come to the conclusion that students need that support over the difficult first year,” said Paul Katchadourian, director of post-secondary student services for the Kativik School Board.

Students with children get help finding daycare or babysitters, expenses which the KSB also covers.

“Some students with children succeed and other don’t, but all at the same rate,” said Katchadourian.

This year, the KSB has 84 students styudying at colleges, universities and vocational schools in the South. Around 20 per cent drop out before the end of the first semester, but many decide to try again later on.

While post-secondary students in Nunavut have to pay back their student assistance if they drop out after one semester and want to return within three years, there’s no such penalty for Nunavik students.

Those who fail two consecutive semesters at college must leave, but before pulling the plug on its support, the KSB organizes academic counselling every week for a student in difficulty.

“It works very well,” said Katchadourian.

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