Licking the odds
For Duncan, 40, the award confirmed her decision to return to school was a wise one. The award is given to aboriginal or Inuit adult learners who return to school and successfully complete at least one year of their studies.
Enroled in the management studies program at Nunavut Arctic College's Kivalliq campus, the journey back to education was a difficult one for Duncan.
"I tried to return to school off and on over the years, but I wouldn't be able to stay long," said Duncan. "I was told I should be working and didn't need an education.
"After my parents passed away, I finally had the chance to go for it, so that's what I did."
Duncan said she has absolutely no regrets about returning to school.
She said her only wish was that she didn't have the strength years ago to block out all the negativity about education she was exposed to and make her own decision.
"I know now that sometimes you have to take the time for a good honest look at your situation and answer some tough personal questions.
"What's keeping you from going back to school? Is it kids? Somebody else in your life? Why are they holding you back?
"You have to take the time to answer these questions within yourself and sometimes that's not easy."
Duncan said she's learning a lot in her program that she didn't have a chance to learn as a younger woman.
She said people shouldn't be so willing to stand still in life and even though it won't be easy, if they have what it takes to return to school they should do it.
"Nobody else is going to do it for you. You have to want it bad enough to work hard and make it happen."