When Nunia Anoee decided to move from Sanirajak to Arviat for a teaching job in 1999, she thought she’d only be there for two years.
More than 20 years later, Anoee is being recognized for her accomplishments and commitment to education with Nunavut’s Council of the Federation Literacy Award.
The award is presented to a teacher in each province and territory to celebrate exceptional achievement, innovative practice and excellence in literacy.
“After my two years I asked if I’m going back to Hall Beach or am I staying. I ended up buying a house, having a child and having a baby. So this is home now,” said Anoee.
“I feel really lucky to have been working with really supportive people.”
On Sept. 13, Premier Joe Savikataaq recognized Anoee’s accomplishments in the legislative assembly
“Nunia is dedicated to meeting students where they are at and helping strengthen students’ Inuktitut language skills at all ages, and she encompasses all the qualities of a leader of literacy promotion,” said Savikataaq. “While her studies and work have taken her to different communities across the territory, she recognizes the importance of learning different dialects of Inuktitut to facilitate more meaningful communication with Elders, community members, students and family.”
Anoee told Kivalliq News she didn’t think the award was such a big deal at first.
“When I read it in an email, I thought that’s great. Then my sisters and family were happy about it and it made me realize it is exciting” she said.
“I’m very grateful for the people who have submitted my name.”
Anoee started her career off as a classroom assistant in 1987. After a couple of years in that position, Anoee decided to pursue further education to become a teacher.
“We had a principal who was really helpful and encouraged assistants to achieve their Northern Native Teacher Certificates,” said Anoee.
Her studies took her to Iqaluit where she worked towards her degree, taking a brief break to return to Hall Beach so one of her children could attend kindergarten.
‘From there I went back to Iqaluit to finish the BA program,” she said.
When she finished school Anoee ended up working alongside Nellie Kusugak to develop Inuktitut language programming for the territory. Following that she headed back to Hall Beach where she taught different levels of school until she applied for the job that would take her to Arviat.
“I moved to Arviat after seeing a job advertisement in Nunatsiaq News and a friend told me I would enjoy doing the work that was advertised. I got interviewed but then through the summer I went camping from my parents. Then when we got back my mom wrote to me to let me know I got the job I wanted,” she said.
Throughout her school career Anoee has taught at all levels, from kindergarten to high school. She has also taken intermittent breaks to work with the department of education on improving the Inuktitut programming for the territory.
She is currently the Grade 2 teacher at Levi Angmak elementary school.
Although she spent her first few years in Arviat teaching Inuktitut in high school she later decided to return to working with primary school children because she thought she could have a greater impact on younger students.
“If you want the best for your students, no matter what program you have, how good it is, you have to adjust it to the students. We have kids with short attention spans now, so you have to come up with ways to keep their attention,” she said.
“Sometimes it’s challenging but it’s rewarding when you see the progress.”
Although Anoee has been teaching for more than 30 years she isn’t showing any signs of showing down. She said she loves what she does and working with the students keeps her busy.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m ready but then again as long as I’m able-bodied I don’t think I want to retire. There’s just so much to do,” she said.
“Sometimes it is tiring and challenging, but the reward of seeing the change is awesome.”