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School's out, work begins
Hundreds of students filling summer positions

Derek Neary
Northern News Services
Saturday, June 10, 2017

For many students across Nunavut, the school books are put away, but their other work is just getting started.

NNSL photograph

Corenna Nuyalia, who was a summer student with the Government of Nunavut in 2006, has worked her way up to become the Department of Environment's senior adviser on sealing and fur. - photo courtesy of Corenna Nuyalia

Government, businesses, Inuit organizations and non-profit operations are hiring high school and post-secondary students for the summer. The territorial government employed a record 249 summer students last year. As of last week, 108 people had been hired for summer 2017, ahead of the pace from the same time in 2016, when 92 summer student jobs were filled, according to Janis Qaunirq, a communications specialist with the Department of Finance.

The GN has a central budget of $985,000 for summer student employment, but departments can use their own funding to supplement that, and it's expected to push total salaries and benefits for summer students to upwards of $2 million, Qaunirq said.

There is no set number of GN summer student jobs. Government departments are "free to hire as many summer students as they can effectively manage," said Qaunirq.

The GN summer student wages range from $17 to $31 per hour, which is topped up by Northern allowance and a bonus for bilingual employees.

The federal government also has a pot of money set aside for summer students. Thirty entities in Nunavut - including businesses, non-profit organizations and several hamlets - have been approved for funding through the federal Canada Summer Jobs program for 2017. That program targets full-time students aged 15 to 30 who are resuming their studies in the fall.

The Canada Summer Jobs program created 66,000 jobs nationally last year and has attracted close to 42,000 applications from businesses across the country this year. The federal government set aside an additional $113 million for Canada Summer Jobs in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Chesterfield Inlet is one of the municipalities tapping into the Canada Summer Jobs program. Senior administrative officer Shawn Stuckey said the hamlet is aiming to fill a few positions to carry out community cleanup and do work around hamlet buildings.

"It gives an opportunity to get them some work experience and also get things done on the hamlet's behalf that probably would not happen without summer students," Stuckey said.

Corenna Nuyalia can vouch for the benefits of working as a summer student. She started off as an administrative assistant with the territorial Department of Economic Development and Transportation in 2006 after completing a year with the Nunavut Sivuniksavut post-secondary program in Ottawa.

"It was my first introduction to employment in the GN... and learning how the government works - processes and procedures," Nuyalia recalled.

It also reinforced the importance of punctuality and getting tasks completed in a timely manner, she added.

She went on to become a project coordinator with the Nunavut Coastal Resources Inventory project with the Department of Environment and has advanced to become the department's senior adviser on sealing and fur for the past four years.

She said she would encourage others to consider summer student employment with the territorial government.

"It provides great experience in the workforce," Nuyalia said. "All the departments within the GN are different so you can always learn different fields and figure out what you're interested in."

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