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Clyde River salutes 2010 graduates

Emily Ridlington
Northern News Services
Published Monday, December 6, 2010

KANGIQTUGAAPIK/CLYDE RIVER - They may have finished classes in June but it is never too late to celebrate the graduation of students from Quluaq School.

"I'm the first one to graduate in my family for quite a number of years and my family are proud of me," said graduate Joanna Panipak.

The ceremony was held at the school on Nov. 5 and community members gathered in large numbers for the occasion.

Along with Panipak, Rosemary Sanguya, Mikki Noah and Douglas Kuniliusie got to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas.

"It's a great feeling to walk across the stage to get your diploma," said Panipak.

She got to return home for the ceremony as she is working as an intern with the Canadian Wildlife Service in Iqaluit. She is helping a biologist with work such a bird counts and other tasks.

Co-principal Graham Field said the ceremony is held in November because the school waits for the results from the Grade 12 exams to come from Alberta.

At the ceremony, prayers were said and there were speeches by Uqqummiut MLA James Arreak who spoke on behalf of Premier Eva Aariak, Jacob Jaypoody as the chairperson of the district education authority and Sanguya's father.

"He spoke about when he grew up years ago, when education was not of primary concern but rather learning traditional skills and being able to survive out on the land," said Field.

Diplomas and other awards were given out including laptops donated by Baffinland Iron Mines to the grads.

Graduate Teeman Paneak said the day couldn't have been any better as he felt good he was graduating.

Paneak said he has been good friends with Noah and Kuniliusie since Grade 8 or Grade 9.

He said Kuniliusie is looking at going to school for heavy equipment operation in Morrisburg, Ont., and that it might also be a good possibility for him.

For the past several years, Panipak said she began to have fun at school getting her friends to work together on projects.

Both Panipak and Paneak have a genuine interest in science.

Panipak said it was Field who really inspired her in the classroom as her math teacher.

"Before I matured I used to be a different person," she said.

She and Sanguya were the class valedictorians and they gave a bilingual speech in English and Inuktitut to those at the ceremony.

At the end of the ceremony, the graduates lined up and each person in the gymnasium came to shake their hand to congratulate them. The grads then served cake to all in attendance. Field estimated the cake was almost a metre wide and almost two metres long.

While Panipak said she is sad to leave her friends and her community she is ready to move and has already had the opportunity to go to Botswana with Northern Youth Abroad this past summer. She said she intends to apply to Nunavut Sivuniksavut in Ottawa.

"When I was going to Africa my parents were worried and they didn't want me to go and I told them I am going to come to Iqaluit and work and they said at least it is closer to home," she said.

Panipak offers this advice to all her friends and students in high school: "Don't quit high school, finish so then you can move forward."

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