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Scholarship scuffle

Jillian Dickens
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 05/05) - Norma Levesque thinks her son didn't receive an Inuit scholarship because he lives in the south.

Nathan Levesque, who is taking first year courses at Grant McEwan College in Edmonton, applied for a Nunavut Implementation Training Committee scholarship in late August. To be eligible, you must be an Inuit land-claims beneficiary, be enroled as a full-time student in a post secondary institution, and have maintained at least a 70 per cent average for the last school year before applying.

Nathan is originally from Prince Albert, Sask., but his grandmother was from Whale Cove. He has never been to the North.

"In this case, the applicant was denied based on marks," said chief executive officer Lorne Kusugak.

According to Nunavut News/North's calculations, Nathan's marks total 69.24 per cent. But with Nathan's transcripts in hand, Norma is crying foul.

"It's just a shame," she said. "He did make the grade. My son was a merit student in the last year of high school."

To receive the certificate of merit, you must have an average grade of between 70 to 80 per cent.

"The school would not issue a certificate of merit had he not been between 70 and 80 per cent," said Norma. And if the school rounded the numbers off, "Why can't NITC just round it off?"

"I think because he's an Inuk living in the south he is not regarded in the same way," she said.

Kusugak denies that.

"It's a real kick in the head. It's a sad day when you get accused of something like that when it's the farthest thing from your mind," he said.

He says countless successful applicants are Inuit, living in the south, who have not even stepped foot in the North.

Although Kusugak confirms scholarship requirements are those listed above, the NITC website says different.

Under eligibility, it reads you must maintain an average of 70 per cent while receiving the scholarship.

The application form addresses transcripts and grades once. In a box on the side of the page, it states: "If applying for second or third year funding, you must include a copy of your transcripts and grades."

This was another of Norma's complaints. She says each time she contacted NITC regarding the scholarship, she heard a different story in regards to marks.

"The guidelines for the scholarship appear to have changes with each conversation. I was told at one point that since Nathan had completed a Grade 12 Food Science course with a mark of 68 per cent he was not considered eligible," she said in a letter addressed to her local MLA in Edmonton.

She asked also that the website be reviewed.

Roxanne Sateana, overseer of the scholarship, admits that "maybe we worded (the website) wrong."