Nunavik Sivunitsavut (NS) means Nunavik: Our Future in Inuktitut. This postsecondary educational path was designed by John Abbott College, in collaboration with the Kativik School Board, to prepare the youth of Nunavik for the future political and cultural leadership of the region. As of fall 2017, students will study their history, language, land claims, and culture, and engage in inuguiniq at the post-secondary level.
John Abbott College has a long history spanning over more than 25 years working with indigenous communities. In particular, it has been working in partnership with the Kativik School Board to provide support to Inuit students coming from Nunavik for more than 20 years.
In 2015, four regional organizations from Nunavik approached the College to collaborate in the design and delivery of a culturally relevant education for the youth of Nunavik:
- Kativik Regional Government (KRG)
- Makivik Corporation
- Kativik School Board (KSB)
- Avataq Cultural Institute
What is Nunavik?
Nunavik is the territory of the Québec Inuit population. The word means great land in Inuktitut. It covers the lands north of the 55th parallel in Québec, which makes up about one-third of the province. The population is scattered amongst 14 villages on the Ungava Bay, Hudson Strait and Hudson Bay coasts. The population of the region is 12,090 (2011 census), and the Inuit of the region, who make up more than 90% of the population, call themselves Nunavimmiut.
One of the primary goals of Nunavik Sivunitsavut is to provide young Nunavimmiut with the opportunity to understand the current cultural, socio-economic and political context of Nunavik, and how their region fits into the larger context of Québec, Canada, and the world. The regional organizations have developed a vision of what they believe constitutes a culturally relevant education. The vision of Nunavik Sivunitsavut is to foster isummaniq, or personal autonomy in the students.
Community Engagement – Students at Nunavik Sivunitsavut research the political and economic organizations of Nunavik in an effort to understand how the region functions in the context of Québec, Canada, and the world. Students also design and carry out social innovation projects that will directly contribute to the development of their home communities.
Cultural Confidence – Nunavik Sivunitsavut focusses largely on the development of cultural awareness and practice. Living in Montreal provides the students with the distance necessary to reflect on what it means to be an Inuk from Nunavik. Students study their own history, land claims, and language. Students have the opportunity to engage with and practice their culture in new, profound ways.
Academic Development – Students at Nunavik Sivunitsavut now have the opportunity to hone their academic skills and improve their understanding of what will be expected of them in post-secondary studies. In addition, many of these skills are in high demand in both public and private companies operating in Nunavik.
Imminik Illinianiq (Learning about oneself) – Perhaps most importantly, students at Nunavik Sivunitsavut are learning about themselves and their potential. John Abbott and the regional organizations work toward creating a college experience that acts as a rite of passage for students from youth to fully contributing adults.
Innovative and Efficient Delivery
Young Inuit who attempt CEGEP face many significant challenges. They feel that current post-secondary programs are completely irrelevant to their culture. They also struggle with feelings of isolation and culture shock.
Nunavik Sivunitsavut is about creating a team atmosphere where students can work together to achieve their academic goals, gain cultural confidence, reconnect with their communities, and ultimately develop their inuguiniq, building relationships that facilitate dialogue and support.
The efficiency of Nunavik Sivunitsavut is implicit in its ultimate design, as described above. By combining both the Tremplin DEC and the Certificate offerings, Nunavik Sivunitsavut is developing an efficient and effective way of providing its graduates with multiple future possibilities.
The first cohort will begin in August 2017.
John Abbott College would like to acknowledge the contribution of James Vandenberg, Kativik School Board, Education Consultant, Nunavik Sivunitsavut.