Robert (Bobby) Charles is currently completing his last semester of a Bachelor of Arts Degree from La Ronge. Bobby has lived in Northern Saskatchewan his whole life and appreciates the fact that he can pursue a university education without having to leave the area:
“…the unique thing about the program is that you can complete your bachelors at home now instead of having to move to the South to obtain a higher education as well you have the support of family and friends”.
La Ronge is located North of the 55th parallel and is the largest community (5,000+) in northern Saskatchewan. It shares many of the same characteristics of northern communities; it is geographically located north of the major economic centres of the province, and the town also has a large Aboriginal population. The town is also home to Northlands College, the education hub for Northern residents. Northlands College has been actively involved in the Circumpolar Studies Program since joining UArctic in 2005, and is the current location for the UArctic International Academic Office. Bobby says that the knowledge he has gained from BCS will have a positive effect on his future and local area:
“My experience with BCS is that it has given me more knowledge of the circumpolar north, there is a lot in that part of the earth that really has not been touched, somewhat the last frontier you could say… I have lived in the north most of my life and I guess the positive thing about the course is that it will benefit me with future employment in the area of the north”.
Bobby’s studies have also opened up his eyes and deepened his understanding to many of the challenges facing Northern communities. Bobby comments that, “I have a better understanding of the Arctic especially how climate change is affecting that area due to the greenhouse gases that have been created through globalization. This can be controlled maybe even prevent it from going further but it would have to take the cooperation of many countries to do this. The warnings are out there but not much is being done”.
BCS classes in Northlands are arranged so that students gather together in class, and are interactively linked with classmates and professors from around the world. Despite having to correspond through the internet and video conferencing, Bobby was pleased that professors were very accessible by email and phone. Bobby offers this advice for potential BCS students:
“The advice I would give is to be prepared to take online classes, there not as hard as you think and the hours are flexible you can work when you want as long as you keep up with the deadlines.”
One of Bobby’s Northland College classmates, Debbie Billette, also enjoyed her experience as a BCS student. Debbie studies at Northlands College in Buffalo Narrows, a town located northeast of La Ronge. Debbie is currently enrolled in her final semester of a Bachelor of Arts in Northern Studies with a concentration in Aboriginal Public Administration.
Debbie found her classes to be very informative and interesting. She was especially pleased with the diversity of students in her classes: “It was interesting to have taken classes with students from Russia and Iceland, and other