Skip to main content

Nunavut Sivuniksavut: Post-Secondary Inuit Education

January 31, 2016

We visited Nunavut Sivuniksavut (N.S.), a post-secondary Inuit education program based in Ottawa. We learned more about the founding of N.S. and had the treat of watching a student performance.

NS Ottawa Visit

On Tuesday, January 26th, our team visited Nunavut Sivuniksavut (commonly referred to as N.S.), a post-secondary Inuit education program. We met with Morley Hanson and Murray Angus, some of the initial founders and today coordinators for N.S. N.S. allows students from the Canadian Arctic north to come to Ottawa for 8 months and learn more about topics including Inuit history, Inuktitut, and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. From the onset, the school was founded to train youth about the emerging Land Claims Agreement. During our visit, our team learned more about the founding of N.S. and enjoyed a short student performance. After researching Inuit education, I arrived to our meeting with a few major themes I hoped to ask more about at N.S., such as youth identity in relation to Inuit; the University of the Arctic; and expansion of the N.S. program model beyond Nunavut territory. When I left the meeting, Morley and Murray provided me with some of their recent publications that will be useful resources as I write my Task Force report. For example, as I think carefully about previous proposal for a university in the Canadian Arctic, I might reference the N.S. 7 Principles document. Along with the students, Morley and Murray gave me a greater sense of the importance of the work at the Ottawa program. Initially, I thought that the creation of a University in the Canadian Arctic region, and especially in Inuit homeland, or Nunangat, would be a matter of political will and funding. I came to understand that there were far deeper institutional and bureaucratic challenges such as program-level and local-level flexibility to carry out programming tailored to each student cohort. The conclusion of our visit was a student performance including dancing, singing, and drumming. Seeing the pride the students exhibit in sharing about their culture was beautiful. Thanks to a previous visit with Barry, an urban Inuit who is also a drummer, I was able to recognize how some of the students exhibited movements that resembled animals, nature, and daily activities. For example, one throat singing song conveyed the steady rhythm of a moving saw. In other performance venues, the students actually are able to raise money for their end of the year trip where they go abroad. In other words, organizations and event hosts are happy promote a positive feedback loop when they ask N.S. student to perform and thereby help support program activities that extend the reach of Inuit culture to other nations. This year, students are raising funds to go to Costa Rica, where they will meet with indigenous communities there. Overall, our visit to N.S. was informative in terms of my work on the post-secondary Inuit education and allowing me to gain a greater appreciation for how the arts demonstrate pride and honor of Inuit people.

By: Elizabeth Castro

This publication was made possible in part by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.