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Self-sacrifice and commitment is rewarded

Nunavut’s first nursing students receive scholarships



Five students enrolled in Nunavut Arctic College’s nursing program became the first people to get Queen Elizabeth II scholarships at a ceremony in Iqaluit last week.

The scholarships were awarded in three categories.

Rebecca Lonsdale and Suzie Pearce received academic achievement awards for year one, Sipporah Peterloosie for academic achievement in year two, and Asenath Idlout and Lily Amagoalik for academic achievement in years three and four.

This scholarship winners will get $2,500 each.

To pay for the scholarship program, the Government of Nunavut will put $20,000 each year for five years into a special fund.

Idlout said she had to make sacrifices to succeed. So that homework doesn’t take her away from her family, she said there are some nights when she’ll combine homework with family time, and she and her children will do their homework together.

When asked about the amount of work involved, she gave a shy smile then broke into laughter and said, “three hours per night.”

Although she hates to admit it, Asenath said that she doesn’t have much family time, but in being organized, she has learned to balance school work with family time.

Also, her family understands and respects her responsibilities, and that has made a big difference. It is this understanding and support that allows her to keep going.

It also involves some self-motivation, determination and a willingness to help her fellow human beings.

However, the thought of being the “first Inuit nurses” used to scare her in the beginning, to a point when she wanted to drop out and just find some other work to do.

But today, she said that she can’t wait until she can actually start nursing.

“When a patient tells a clerk-interpreter what the matter is, it gets misinterpreted, so there is miscommunication. This is one of my motivating factors. Communicating directly with a patient without the aid of an interpreter, so there is no language loss, and in this way, the patient can get treated as a whole,” Asenath said.

“Patients getting treated properly without any communication loss is very important to me.”

Asenath hopes that this nursing program will continue in the future to alleviate some of the pressure the first set of students felt because of their status as pioneers.

She would advise people interested in taking the nursing program not to stay ahead of themselves, make their schooling a priority and to take it one step at a time.

She said the trick is in being organized and setting a clear goal for yourself.

The students must undergo a criminal record check, and make sure their immunizations are up to date in order to be considered for the nursing program.

“I felt so proud. It was as if we were finally acknowledged. And when Minister Ed Picco was talking, he used the example of unilingual Inuit going to Ottawa for treatment. And for us bilingual people, it would be like being sent to Japan for treatment.”

This is the special position these first nursing students are in. They are bilingual Inuit who will filling a gap created by language barriers.

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