Nunavut Sivuniksavut (NS) has much to celebrate thanks to the dedication of several generous contributors, as the post-secondary institution now has three of its own residences ready for students for the next school term.

“It was huge,” said Nunavut Sivuniksavut coordinator Morley Hanson about the announcement Feb. 2.

Nunavut Sivuniksavut staff celebrate the purchase of three residences that will house up to 65 first- and second-year students in Ottawa beginning September 2018. From left: Larissa MacDonald, Dan Guay, Martha Kyak, Robyn Mo-Lian, Morley Hanson, Murray Angus, Melissa Irwin, Aviaq Johnston, Zorga Qaunaq and Samantha Mitchell.
photo courtesy Nunavut Sivuniksavut

“It started out just last fall when we identified the building … They looked desirable and they were just right. But when we saw the cost and what would be involved, we thought we were into a long-term project.”

The cost of the three buildings was about $8.8 million.

“There are developers here who are constructing different apartment buildings with the idea of them simply being rented out to students. Because we’re so close to Ottawa U. here, there are a number of projects where developers, rather than building apartment building with two bedroom or three bedroom (units), they deliberately build these to act as student housing,” explained Hanson.

Thanks to several organizations and companies, the dream became a reality much faster than Hanson thought possible. Contributions from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. ($4 million), Nunasi Corporation ($1 million), and NCC Investment Group Inc. combined with bridge financing from Atuqtuarvik Corporation to make it possible.

“QC (Qikiqtaaluk Corporation) started it all off with a contribution from a silent auction a few years ago,” said Hanson.

The corporation has continued its support since then.

“The overwhelming positive response from organizations just … it humbled us.”

Chair of the college’s board Jesse Mike stated in a news release, “We are extremely appreciative of the support and commitment that funders have shown towards Nunavut Sivuniksavut.”

When the announcement took place at the college, students and staff had the opportunity to meet the people instrumental in making the dream a reality.

“It was a very important moment. It just shows the support there is for students going off to get an education, how much people care about it,” Hanson said.

“It’s just an important time of life and important things are happening – and it all comes together in a unique and special way.”

Nunavut Sivuniksavut has been serving the needs of Inuit youth for 33 years, Hanson said in a statement. It began in 1985 with 10 students, and now takes in upwards of 55 students a year, making it the single most popular destination for Inuit youth going south for post-secondary education.

Apartment-hunting had become stressful for staff – and second year students who do their own – because Ottawa is a university town.

“Students would never be able to come down and actually find their own housing and also start studying at the same time,” said Hanson.

“Student housing is at a premium in Ottawa. It’s very difficult to find and most of it is wrapped up even before the end of June. So for students from up North to secure apartments, it’s very difficult.”

Hanson adds these residences mean quality, secure and safe accommodation within walking distance of school.

“Having them all in housing of this quality means that we’ll be able to support their lifestyle that much better,” he said.

“We believe that having this new place owned by NS will give students a home to be proud of and feel safe in while they’re focusing on their studies,” said Mike.

There are a total of 13 units with 65 bedrooms. This year, 55 students were enrolled in the 2017-2018 school year, meaning the college can grow to accommodate even more.

Hanson stressed repeatedly the importance of the initiative taken by the different organizations, and individuals in them.

“It wasn’t so much NS saying, ‘Can you give us some funding for this?’ We simply presented, ‘Here’s what it’s going to cost if we want students to have this kind of housing.’ Those organizations took it upon themselves to show their commitment, their concern and support for students getting an education,” he said.

New and returning students will move in September 2018.