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Nursing, teacher programs expand in the Kivalliq

For the first time ever, aspiring nurses in the Kivalliq will get the chance to study in Rankin Inlet thanks to Nunavut Arctic College’s inaugural licensed practical nurse diploma.
Students at Rankin Inlet’s Nunavut Arctic College campus do schoolwork on May 14. The college is encouraging potential students to apply to its fall programs before the May 31 deadline. photo courtesy of Dorothy Tootoo

For the first time ever, aspiring nurses in the Kivalliq will get the chance to study in Rankin Inlet thanks to Nunavut Arctic College’s inaugural licensed practical nurse diploma.

The program was designed with a view to support Rankin’s new Elders care facility, which is set to open when the first cohort graduates in three years, said Matthew Ayres, vice-president of NAC’s Kivalliq campus.

“That is our hope,” said Ayres.

The three-year diploma includes a pre-health sciences course that is taken in the first year, followed by a full two-year licensed practical nurse program.

There will also be more options for aspiring teachers in small communities to get teaching degrees beginning this fall.

On top of existing education programs in Rankin Inlet, Baker Lake, Arviat and Coral Harbour, the college will be offering bachelors of education in Naujaat and Whale Cove for the first time.

The effort to train more teachers is being supported as part of the federal and territorial governments’ efforts to recruit more Inuktitut-speaking teachers, according to Ayres.

“We’ve got a lot of federal funding to promote Inuktitut education,” he said. “It’s a popular program and it’s most definitely something we’re focusing on as part of the government’s mandate.”

NAC’s teacher education program is a full four-year university university degree that’s offered in partnership with Memorial University.

The existing cohorts in Arviat and Coral Harbour are in the process of completing their degree cycle and will not be accepting new students. However, Rankin Inlet, Baker Lake, Whale Cove and Naujaat are all accepting first year applicants.

The different modules of the bachelor of education are taught by teachers who travel around Nunavut to complete the syllabus, so students do not not need to leave their communities to study.

Ayres said the programs in Whale Cove and Naujaat are currently tentative but he is hoping enough people enrol to generate interest.

He pointed to the success of the bachelor of education program in Arviat, which is currently entering its final year, as an example of the potential for expanding into smaller communities.

“There could be as many 15 people graduating this year. That’s a really big number out of Arviat,” said Ayres.

Adult education

NAC will also continue to deliver adult education courses throughout the Kivalliq. An updated version of the Getting Ready for Employment and Training (GREAT) program is currently being developed by the Department of Family Services’ Career Development division.

Ayres said the previous program wasn’t meeting its original objective, which is why it’s being modified.

“It’s a job skills program for people that are new to working or who have struggled in the wage economy,” he said. “It will have a beefed up life skills and work skills program, along with a literacy component.”

NAC will also continue to offer its PASS program in Arviat, Baker Lake, Whale Cove and Rankin Inlet. That option is for people who are close to finishing high school but weren’t able to complete all their modules.

“When they finish, they don’t get a GED, they actually get a Nunavut diploma,” said Ayres.

For people who don’t have the educational requirements to get into the PASS program, there is also an adult basic education essential skills program offered in every community throughout the Kivalliq.

“That is simply getting students up to a secondary school level,” Ayres said.

Talk of the trades

Aside from education programming, NAC will continue to provide a full complement of courses, including social work, management studies and the college’s highly popular trades diplomas in Rankin Inlet.

NAC’s trades program is special because it allows students the chance complete the academic portion of their studies while also fulfilling the first few years of their apprenticeship.

In total, there will be five different trade courses offered: electrical, plumbing, carpentry, housing maintainer and oil heat system technician.

“Students in that program are referred and they are paid to do that training. They graduate not only with a diploma but level two of their training,” said Ayres. “If I was to go back to school, that is the route I would take.”

Ayres said NAC is planning to extend a pilot project from last year whereby students in all five trades are given a house to construct by the housing corporation.

“They are going to be doing their work experience on a real-life build,” he said.

The deadline to apply for all of NAC’s courses is May 31. Although Ayres is encouraging people to get their applications in on time, he said late submissions would be accepted as long as the applicant met all the requirements and there is still space in the program.