Six Inuit embark on new path to government work
“Inujunga! We are Inuit, we are youth and we are able”
Cecile Lyall of Taloyoak widens her smile and raises her voice to bring her short speech to a rousing close.
“Inujunga! We are Inuit, we are youth and we are able,” she declares, provoking a loud round of applause.
Lyall is one of six young Inuit, all women, who this month finished the first phase of a Nunavut Sivuniksavut pilot project called the Academic and Career Development program, or “ACD.”
More than 50 people—federal civil servants, Carleton University teachers, first- and second-year NS students—squeezed into the small atrium at the entrance to the NS building in Ottawa this past Friday to honour them.
The program’s purpose is to help Inuit youth prepare for careers at the Government of Nunavut and bolster efforts to carry out Article 23 of the Nunavut Agreement by getting more Inuit into government jobs.
“This is to help students get some exposure to inside government. What do they do there? Well, it’s an amazing range of things. You can have a thousand different careers inside government,” said Murray Angus, a former Nunavut Sivuniksavut staff member who now serves as an advisor to the ACD program.
Old Carleton certificate program gets dusted off
The program started in September 2018 and will run to December 2019. It’s open to graduates of the college’s advanced Inuit studies program, offered in its second year. Effectively, it’s the third year of NS.
The six people who NS chose began with work placements this fall at three federal government workplaces in Ottawa: Employment and Social Development Canada, Statistics Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, known in government circles as “CIRNAC.”
In January, they’ll take courses from Carleton University instructors who will come to the NS building to teach. These courses will lead to a Certificate in Nunavut Public Service Studies.
That Nunavut public service program was developed by Carleton’s Faculty of Public Administration in the early 2000s, but they haven’t offered it since 2008.
Now, they’ll offer an updated version to the ACD students, who will get credit for courses they’ve already taken as part of their second year at NS.
After their winter 2019 academic courses, the students will do a second round of work placements in the spring and summer of 2019, followed by a second round of academic courses from September to December.
The GN will supply students with financial assistance—including help with the costs of tuition, travel and books, and a monthly living allowance—for the two academic terms.
And during the two work placements, the federal government will pay salaries to the students.
The Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corp. will kick in $422,706, an amount the corporation announced this past June.
Makigiaqta handles the $175-million Inuit training fund created by the 2015 out-of-court settlement between Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the federal government.
Civil servants signal a changed attitude
Federal civil servants used last Friday’s event to signal a change in the Government of Canada’s commitment to reconciliation and to implementation of the Nunavut Agreement, especially Article 23.
The Crown-Indigenous relations department sent an assistant deputy minister, Ross Pattee, who’s in charge of the department’s implementation sector.
Pattee said the two students placed at his department, Cecile Lyall and Surya Angatajuak of Baker Lake, helped his 150-person unit better understand Inuit culture and history through a presentation called the Inuit journey.
They also broke the ice by getting CIRNAC employees to help make sealskin poppies and bracelets.
And Pattee joked he’s so impressed by the Inuit students that he’d actually like to poach them from the GN.
“I know I’m not supposed to say that, but you guys are that good and you’ve made such a difference to us, maybe you can come and work for us. And after we’ll send you up north,” Pattee said.
Lyall said later that her experience at the Indigenous and northern affairs department has changed how she feels about the federal government.
“You have sparked a new hope for the future of the Inuit within Canada, with the endless amount of passion you bring to your work every day,” Lyall said, in a remark addressed directly to the federal civil servants in the room.
Tapisa Tattuinee of Arviat, who did her work placement at ESDC, also came away with a favourable view of federal civil servants.
“It’s nice to see everyone working hard together to make things better for Inuit, and Nunavut specifically,” Tattuinee said.
Charlotte Lee, who has spent most of her life in Ottawa, helped organize Indigenous awareness activities at the ESDC department and looks forward to using those skills in her future career.
“Expect an email from me when I graduate from university,” Lee said.
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