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Pond Inlet woman wins scholarship
Wrote about Jose Amaujaq Kusugak's feats as Inuit leader

Myles Dolphin
Northern News Services
Published Monday, August 5, 2013

Receiving a substantial scholarship could not have come at a better time for Pond Inlet native Anita Uuttuvak.

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Anita Uuttuvak, from Pond Inlet, is one of two winners of the Jose Amaujaq Kusugak Scholarship award, a $5,000 prize. - photo courtesy of Anita Uuttuvak

The single mother of two boys, currently in her fourth year as a psychology student at the University of Ottawa, was recently named one of two winners of the Jose Amaujaq Kusugak Scholarship.

The $5,000 award, presented by Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) on July 29, will help Uuttuvak pursue her studies beyond September, a feat she wasn't sure she could accomplish until last week.

"I was considering pulling out of school and doing my courses online so that I could work full time to support my sons," she said from her home in Ottawa, where she was preparing for this semester's final exams.

"I don't have the words to describe the feeling, but I truly appreciate this and will be able to continue my schooling because of this. I don't get any other funding and life can get quite tough at times with two boys who play hockey, but I believe in appreciating what you have and giving yourself credit for how far you've come."

When Uuttuvak found out about the award she was very surprised and caught off guard, she said. Thirteen other people submitted 500-word essays as their bids for the scholarships, which had to "discuss in detail how they will use their education to promote Inuit rights, identity, language and culture," according to the NTI website.

In her essay, Uuttuvak wrote about Kusugak's accomplishments and how he was a loving, smart, talented man and irreplaceable figurehead of the Inuit.

"We were lucky to have him as a leader," Uuttuvak said.

"He gave up so much of himself to make Nunavut happy, we owe him a debt of gratitude. Like him, I believe in promoting the Inuit race and having access to things in Inuktitut."

According to the book Historical Dictionary of the Inuit by Pamela R. Stern, Kusugak was a delegate to the founding meeting of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference and a political leader through his work teaching Inuktitut and Inuit history in Rankin Inlet.

He also chaired an Inuit Tapirisat of Canada program to standardize the Inuit writing system in the 1970s. He passed away in 2011 at the age of 60.

Uuttuvak also wrote about Kusugak's position as an Inuit role model.

"One thing I learned from Jose is that if you want something badly enough, you go get it," she said.

In a news release on July 29, NTI president Cathy Towtongie praised Uuttuvak and Rankin Inlet resident Bridgette Tattuinee for their superb writing and for capturing the spirit of the competition.

"They clearly expressed their dedication to their studies and to advancing Inuit rights, and both successful candidates wrote very well about Jose's accomplishments and legacy," Towtongie said. "Although these two candidates were chosen as the 2013 recipients, all of the applications were very strong. Once again, the selection committee had their work cut out for them."

The next deadline to apply for the Jose Amaujaq Kusugak Scholarship is July 9, 2014.

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