by Erin Strachan
November 16, 2018
What does it take for Inuit youth or adults with barriers to complete a 12-week training program and take steps to getting a good job?
Our team is uncovering exactly what it takes. I am filled with pride for all of our participants in Cambridge Bay, Kugluktuk, Rankin Inlet, Cape Dorset and Iqaluit. Right now, I’m sitting on a plane headed for Iqaluit, after having spent a week with our first Inuk instructor Kaajuk Kablalik, his local classroom assistant and his participants as they enter the 9th week of the program. They have come a long way in those 9 weeks and have further to go until Dec 7th when they will receive their certificates.
So what does it take? The short answer is it takes a whole lot. Dedication, purpose, commitment, hard work, stamina, guts, courage, you name it. But whatever it takes, the payoff is huge. Graduates of our program are poised to take on important roles in their communities and not a minute too soon. Like some of the best challenges in life it takes everything you’ve got and then sometimes it takes a little bit more.
Our participants should feel proud of themselves. They are demonstrating just how “ajungi” (or capable) they really are. Just like their ancestors and Elders, they are tough, strong-willed and determined. They can overcome challenges, be creative to solve problems, work together for a common cause, and offer support and kindness to others and even to themselves. And is it ever rewarding watching them shine. Worth working so many late nights just to see the possibility and determination on their faces.
This past week the Rankin group participated in Inuit cultural activities. Working with local Instructors, they practiced one of two traditional Inuit skills:
- Carving traditional pendants from bowhead whale baleen or walrus ivory with Instructor/Jeweler Kaajuk Kablalik
- Sewing warm leather mittens with Guest Instructor/Seamstress Mary Ayaruak
In addition to these exciting activities, participants heard stories from local Elder Johnny Ayaruaq and enjoyed a country food lunch of maktaaq, quaq (frozen Caribou meat) and Arctic Char. I also baked my favourite chocolate beet cake and decorated it for them.
They brought in guitars and showed me a thing or two. One participant even made his own capo out of materials he had – very resourceful! That’s so Qanuqtuurniq (the Inuit Societal Value about being innovative and resourceful)!
I also had the opportunity to meet participants in Iqaluit, who have just completed their work terms. Several of them have already been offered jobs! Congratulations to the Instructors, Classroom Assistants and soon-to-be graduates in all our communities.
Manager, Indigenous Capacity-Building Programs
Performance Management Consultants
More about Erin here