Recent media coverage featuring Kivilliq Inuit Association President Kono Tattuinee indicated that funding requests from Inuit students have almost tripled since 2020.
Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA George Hickes asked Education Minister Pamela Gross to confirm whether her department has seen similar increases in funding requests.
“I do know that those numbers have been rising and post-Covid they have been rising as well,” said Gross.
Hickes then spoke about regional Inuit organizations and their programs to support post-secondary students. According to a recent media article that he cited, the Inuit organizations “have been denying (some) students due to a lack of funds. It was stated that their funds that they receive come from the federal government, and then Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated. Is the Department of Education looking at accessing these federal funds so that they can leverage Government of Nunavut funds to make sure no student goes underserved?”
Gross responded that her department works closely with Inuit counterparts “in collaboration and discussions on post-secondary funding at the staff level. They are aware of initiatives within the Inuit organizations of how the department does see that students receive Financial Assistance for Nunavut Students (FANS) as well as top-ups, for example, from Kakivak or the Kitikmeot Inuit Association or our Kivalliq region as well, to support the students in school. I can’t stress enough how much those top-ups and extra support are very much appreciated for students.
“We are looking into ways to enhance the program and enhance specific areas with regard to supporting students’ needs,” the Education minister added. “With the comprehensive review, I look forward to bringing forward that process through…
“I will say that with the federal funding that is out there, the more funding that supports the department for students is always appreciated. Right now, that funding goes to our regional Inuit associations, but if there are ways and avenues through bilateral agreements or anything that will support Government of Nunavut students, we do look forward to that, if that is a possibility. I will talk to my colleagues about that.”
Gross concluded, “With the comprehensive review we have reached out to our stakeholders, including all of the RIAs (regional Inuit associations) and we’re speaking to them about challenges and successes with post-secondary funding. With that comprehensive review coming forward and with the recommendations, there are specific recommendations and support that we do hope to enhance. With that, Mr. Speaker, I can say that we will have a piece in there to talk about that support and ways that we can enhance that. I look forward to giving that information to, not just our members, but to all Nunavummiut in the future that we do want to see increased support for post-secondary.”
On Nov. 6, Gross updated her colleagues with the following statement: “A dedicated project team made up of government officials and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated representatives have worked collaboratively on this (education funding) review. We all know this review is a significant undertaking that has been well overdue. While this important work is ongoing, we are making adjustments and taking interim measures to improve the program… today, I am excited to announce the Department of Education is supporting Nunavut Inuit FANS recipients with a new wellness benefit of $500 per semester.
“I look forward to sharing updates on the re-envisioning of the FANS program with my colleagues and all Nunavummiut as we move forward.”