Kayla Bruce has dreamed of becoming a teacher in her hometown ever since finishing high school.
After completing eight years of post-secondary studies in the south, Bruce has returned to Rankin Inlet to do just that.
Bruce was recently hired as the new Grade 5-6 teacher at Simon Alaittuq School.
“Going into it back in 2015, that was my plan, to come back home,” said Bruce. “I feel ready and I’m happy to be here.”
Bruce completed her bachelor of education degree at the University of Winnipeg this summer. Before that, the 28-year-old spent two years pursuing Inuit Studies at Ottawa’s Nunavut Sivuniksavut.
The integrated program in Winnipeg took six years to complete. It required her to do a practicum in a local school every year for the last five years. In total, she spent 10 weeks teaching in classrooms last year, which included having to do all the teaching and programming for a class for an entire month.
“You’re getting to practice it before you go into your own classroom,” Bruce said.
Teaching runs in Bruce’s blood. Her mother Trudi Bruce is a vice-principal in Rankin and her grandmother was also a teacher. That’s not to mention some of her aunts, who are also in the profession.
Bruce said family is important to her and relatives were crucial in helping her get through the COVID-19 lockdowns in Winnipeg during her final year. The combination of not being able to travel home and having to do courses online was an extra strain. However, Bruce was able to keep in regular touch, even making time for regularly scheduled Friday night Facetime dinners with family back home.
“My family has been a tremendous help. They have supported my through everything. They have always encouraged me and told me I can do it,” she said. “You do get homesick, but it’s so worth it now that I’m back here.”
Bruce specialized in elementary and middle school streams for her degree, so she’s excited she got hired for the Grade 5-6 job that she applied for.
“With younger kids, I find everything is still magical,” she said. “It’s exciting to know they are our future and I get to work with them.”
It’s only been a few weeks since school started, but Bruce said she has loved getting to know who her students are. Although it’s still early days, she believes that being from Rankin Inlet helps to build connections with her students.
“It’s always nice to have people that understand the community,” she said.