“Education is the single largest factor determining income and employment levels, and it continues to be a key factor in the growth and development of capable, effective and sustainable aboriginal governments,” said Arctic College’s Senior Academic Officer Linda Pemik. “The University of the Arctic provides our College with one of the very few avenues open for Nunavut students to participate in relevant international activities and remains an important initiative for our institution.”
Pemik says the greatest result of this international focus has been the increasing number of Nunavut students who have had the opportunity to develop a broader understanding of the circumpolar world and to bring that knowledge to bear in their lives and professional practice.
“One of the challenges in creating an international culture within any educational institution is how to increase engagement of both students and faculty in international programs,” she said. “We have found that the best way to do this is to provide the opportunity for faculty to learn from our international partners. They then become stronger advocates for student participation and are better informed not only about international issues that they can then bring into the classroom, but also about international development opportunities for students.”
An example of the success of the College’s UArctic partnership is the growing interest and participation in the North2North student mobility program. This year, Arctic College’s Nunatta Campus in Iqaluit welcomed Alasakan Inupiaq exchange student Marjorie Thabone from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Arctic College Management Studies student Lily Maniapik went to Finmark University College in Norway. Environmental Technology student Jodi McGregor is spending the year at the University of Lapland in the Arctic Studies program. Last year, Human Services students from Cambridge Bay’s Kitikmeot Campus also raised funds for an exchange visit to Finmark University College.
These exchange opportunities are not only for students. Beata Hejnowicz, Senior Instructor in the Fine Arts programs at Arctic College’s Nunatta Campus visited the Sami University College and the Sami Education Centre to strengthen the existing partnerships with both of these institutions and to share best practices and program information. Hejnowicz, along with Peesee Stephens, the Dean of Language and Culture programs, gave lectures and presentations on Arctic College’s programs and the relevant issues common to Inuit and Sami peoples.
Discussions were also held to expand the Verddet agreement to include arts and crafts-related programs. The Verddet Agreement is a program of cooperation between Sámi University College and Nunavut Arctic College, signed in 2006. The original focus was on aboriginal teacher training issues, with regard to educational and scientific cooperation. As a result of the current meetings with the Sami University College, Arctic College intends to expand these areas of cooperation. Both Sami and Inuit can continue to learn from each other as both peoples struggle to maintain a balance between modern and traditional practices and work through a process of emancipation from colonial practices. It is also an excellent example of international cooperation between two small colleges.
This trip also provided the opportunity to introduce Nunavut Arctic College to the Indigenous Arts and Crafts Thematic Network of the UArctic. UArctic's Thematic Networks foster issues-based cooperation within networks which are focused, but flexible enough to respond quickly to topical Arctic issues. They form a natural framework for development of UArctic education and research providing an optimal structure for increasing knowledge generation and sharing across Canada’s North and the circumpolar world.
The continued exchange of ideas and information will continue to strengthen and enrich programs offered with our respective institutions, while promoting continued international cooperation.
Information about Bachelor of Circumpolar Studies course offerings in Nunavut can be obtained through the Registrar’s Office, Phone: (867) 979-7222 or from the College’s web site at www.arcticcollege.ca. General information about these programs and the UArctic can be found at the UArctic website, www.uarctic.org.