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Grads celebrate adult education achievements
Convocation held at Nunavut Arctic College’s Nunatta campus

Emily Ridlington
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, May 19, 2011

IQALUIT - Marie Uviluq can now tell her grandchildren: "Grandma is not in Grade 0, she is a level A interpreter and translator."

NNSL photo/graphic

From left, April Akeeagok from Grise Fiord, Susie Akpalialuk from Pangnirtung and Janice Apak from Pond Inlet receive their diplomas in language and culture in Inuit studies at the Nunatta campus of Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluit. - Emily Ridlington/NNSL photo

She was one of two valedictorians who addressed the graduating class at the Nunavut Arctic College Nunatta campus convocation in Iqaluit on May 12.

From that campus alone, 45 graduates received certificates and 14 graduates received diplomas.

Born outside of Iglulik at an outpost camp, Uviluq said for the first six years of her life she lived in a sod house and travelled by dog team.

She would go on to live in Pangnirtung and have five children and four grandchildren.

"After my children grew up I wanted to do something for me," she said adding her course of study was a long two years which included homework, tears and laughter.

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Cathy Towtongie told the graduates to hold their heads up high and to celebrate their achievements, and provided them with some sound advice.

"Never be ashamed of your culture," she said.

The audience was treated to singing and dancing by former Nunavut Sivuniksavut students.

Nunavut Arctic College president Daniel Vandermuelen was proud of the fact there is a community learning centre in each of the 25 communities in the territory.

"Adult learning not only changes the individuals, it changes families, horizons, minds expand and they build up a lot of confidence in their own abilities to succeed," he said.

This is particularly true for Jootah Saimaiyuk from Pangnirtung who earned his trades access diploma.

"It feels good and I didn't think I would be ever doing this," he said.

He completed a one-year academic program which included writing the Alberta apprenticeship exam allowing him to pursue work in any trade.

Janice Apak from Pond Inlet took home a certificate in language and culture program in Inuit studies.

She said she learned a lot about Inuit culture and many new Inuktitut words.

While she doesn't have a job lined up yet she said she plans to pursue employment with Inuit organizations.

Special awards were given out to three students. Patrick Audla of Iqaluit received the JWG Jewellery and Metalwork Award, the Keith Rawlings Memorial Award went to Ahmie Nauyakvik from Qikiqtarjuaq and the Environmental Technology Student of the Year prize went to Derek Williams from Rankin Inlet.

Students receiving degrees in such programs as nursing and education will attend their convocation in Iqaluit on June 3.

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