The new Academic and Career Development Program through Nunavut Sivuniksavut and Carleton University has a 100 per cent graduation rate and one of the students who completed the studies has already landed a government job.

Charlotte Lee, who’s originally from Pangnirtung and lives in Ottawa, has been hired part-time by Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC). It’s the federal department where she did her work placement from April to September.

The graduates of the first Academic and Career Development Program through Nunavut Sivuniksavut and Carleton University in Ottawa are, from left, Surya Angatajuak, Cecile Lyall, Jillian Kaviok, Charlotte Lee, Miranda Qanatsiaq and Tapisa Tattuinee. The program was introduced in an effort to cultivate more Inuit civil servants. photo courtesy of Nunavut Sivuniksavut

Lee is among six students who were celebrated at a graduation ceremony on Dec. 16 upon finishing the 16-month program. The grads, who had already completed the two-year Nunavut Sivuniksavut (NS) college program, earned a Nunavut public services studies certificate from Carleton University.

“There were times when it was really hard and I know we all wanted to give up at different times but we all stuck through it, worked together and helped each other out,” said Lee, who added that macro-economics was the course that she found most challenging.

Other courses included introduction to financial accounting, organizational behaviour, managing federal/territorial relations, micro-economics and English.

The program is designed to help produce more civil servants as the Government of Nunavut strives to reach a representative Inuit workforce, which would be approximately 85 per cent rather than hovering closer to 50 per cent Inuit employees for many years.

Murray Angus, a longtime NS instructor who came out of retirement to help facilitate the Academic and Career Development Program, said learning during the job placements happened on both sides as bureaucrats benefitted from having Inuit students among their ranks.

“Their presence had quite a remarkable impact on the workplace just because it gave all those people working on a Inuit and Nunavut file a chance to interact with an Inuk and to learn so much,” Angus said. “It was very satisfying to all involved.”

He added that Statistics Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada also offered paid placements and all departments had the students assisting with files specific to Inuit or Nunavut.

The program, which is core funded through Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.’s Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corporation, will be offered again in September 2020.

Angus said the students emerged with enhanced skills and confidence and they’re “highly employable.”

“It’s broadened their horizons and possibilities and people have been giving them business cards left, right and centre, saying, would you come and work with us,” he said. “They won’t lack for opportunities.”

Lee said she would recommend the Academic and Career Development Program to others.

“I think it’s a great opportunity, even if you don’t want to work for the Government of Canada. It’s great experience and great networking that you could bring back home and work for the Government of Nunavut,” she said. “It will look good on your resume.”

With the program concluded, Lee now plans to enjoy the holidays, if she can just shake the nagging feeling that she still has academic projects to tackle.

“I’m excited not to have homework or assignments. I still feel pressure like I’m supposed to be doing something for school but I’m like, I’m done! I’m free!” she laughed.

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