NNSL Photo/Graphic

Canadian North

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Young mom honoured for leadership
Grise Fiord student one of four scholarship recipients

Casey Lessard
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, June 23, 2012

With a busy volunteer schedule, a part-time job and a three-year-old daughter, it should be no surprise a student who also keeps good grades should be rewarded for her hard work.

NNSL photo/graphic

One of the Nunavut Law Association's four Upinnaqtuq Award recipients Ooleesee Akeeagok poses at her graduation with teacher Tanya Cross, who nominated her for the scholarship. - photo courtesy of Tanya Cross

It came out of the blue, however, for recent Umimmak School graduate Ooleesee Akeeagok when she was named one of four teens chosen to receive an Upinnaqtuq Award from the Nunavut Law Foundation.

"They didn't tell me until the assembly," Akeeagok said, who learned of the award at the end-of-the-year assembly. "I was really proud."

Teacher Tanya Cross nominated her for the award, which was created in honour of Nunavut's first senior judge, Justice Beverly Browne, and recognizes volunteerism, commitment to social justice, and dedication to working with youth; in other words, Akeeagok's nomination was a logical choice.

"I love Grise Fiord," Akeeagok said. "I love to be a role model to the kids and show them that I did this, and you can do that."

"I am thrilled that Ooleesee was chosen to receive this award," Cross said. "I nominated Ooleesee for this award because she is a leader in our school and community. She sets a good example for those around her with her mature, dedicated, and positive attitude and is definitely a role model for the other students at our school."

Cross credits Akeeagok's early motherhood for the progress she has seen in her student.

"Since having a child, Ooleesee has matured into a responsible young lady and her mature attitude and work ethic sets an example for others," Cross wrote in her nomination letter.

"It was hard the first year," Akeeagok said, noting the baby's father's parents adopted the child, "and this year was a bit easier, knowing she's in good hands with her father."

Besides motherhood, Akeeagok works part-time at the local co-op store, and stays busy as a student leader and community volunteer. She is also a Junior Canadian Ranger sergeant, and attended the RCMP youth academy and has taken part in Northern Youth Abroad.

The $500 award, designed to recognize students who demonstrate leadership in conflict resolution or who have made remarkable progress in rehabilitation, also went to Neve Jaw of Cape Dorset, Alookie Korgak of Iqaluit, and Sylvain Degrasse of Qikiqtarjuaq.

Akeeagok plans to use the money for school, but will continue working this year before attending either Nunavut Sivuniksavut or Arctic College.

"I want to become a teacher because I love to teach and be with the kids, helping others," she said.

"She has dedicated herself to her studies, family, and community, and I know she has a bright future ahead of her," Cross said.

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.