On May 20, Nunavut Sivuniksavut (NS) celebrated the graduating class of 2020-2021, with a virtual graduation broadcast on Isuma TV and Facebook live on NS’s page.
It was here the various graduates came together to celebrate NS’s first year with online learning.
For many of the students at the virtual graduation, this was a school year they saw themselves gain a greater understanding of their own Inuit culture and of the history of Inuit and Nunavut.
“It has been crazy learning about Inuit history and Inuit government relations and my rights underneath the Nunavut Agreement,” said Aakulujuk Stephens, an NS graduate from Iqaluit.
“I believe this is all valuable information and it has been amazing to learn all of this at home.”
The online classes “didn’t stop us from learning our Inuit identity, our land claims and our history,” added Ashton Mannik, an NS graduate from Baker Lake.
In some of the graduates’ communities COVID-19 made it’s presence known during the school year, however they were able to get their work done despite what was happening in their own communities.
“It’s kind of (a) weird and fun year because everyday we’d connect as a class through Zoom, but it was hard when Arviat was struck by COVID and I had to be home with some complications with the internet,” said Damaris Nutarasungnik, an NS graduate from Arviat.
COVID-19 brought a different type of classroom than what is normally the case prior to the pandemic. Despite that Nutarasungnik managed to pull through, and it had even helped her persevere during the outbreak.
Having to juggle school and work, she said, was a good way to keep herself busy while learning about Inuit history and culture.
“I felt like I started living my owned identity as Inuk,” she said. “When I started studying at Nunavut Sivuniksavut, even though it was virtual learning, I learned a lot about Inuit culture.”
The students also took the time to thank their teachers and instructors for helping them through this unusual year.
“I’d like to take the time to thank our instructors, (for) educating us on what we learned throughout the year,” said Mannik.
“Something that’s inspired me this year, is all the support of classmates, teachers, family and friends,” said Liam Qammukaq, an NS graduate from Gjoa Haven.
“Having this support around me inspires me to be a better person.”
For others it was something that completes their journey into better understanding what it’s like to be Inuk.
“I always felt like I already understood, but it always felt like something was missing and NS brought that missing piece,” Mariah Erkloo, a graduate from Pond Inlet.
“Not only it was a great chance to learn about history, I got to share the learning experience with amazing people.”