Great-grandmother from Northern Quebec graduates at 71 with childcare diploma

At 71, Elisapee Weetaluktuk has three children, six grandchildren, three great grandchildren and as of Friday a diploma in Inuit Childcare Services.

Elisapee Weetaluktuk will continue her work at the Tasiurvik Childcare Centre in Inukjuak

Elisapee Weetaluktuk with her daughter Leena Weetaluktuk, granddaughter Leona Weetaluktuk and great-granddaughter Zanouba Weetaluktuk. (Submitted by Leena Weetaluktuk)

At 71, Elisapee Weetaluktuk has three children, six grandchildren, three great grandchildren and as of Friday a diploma in Inuit Childcare Services.

In a ceremony in Inukjuak, Que., the 71-year-old celebrated the end of the 1,455 hour program she started in 2015.

"I want to say to others that I want them to succeed in their lives and not give up, to continue in their pursuits with positive outlook," Weetaluktuk said in Inuktitut.

Elisapee Weetaluktuk (right) stands with the five other graduates in the Educators for Native and Inuit Childcare Services program. (Submitted by Leena Weetaluktuk)

The six graduates in the Educators in Native and Inuit Childcare Services training program received credit through on-the-job training at the Tasiurvik Childcare Centre.

The diploma is offered through Cégep de St-Félicien. It certifies its graduates to offer preschool and after-school programs for children from age zero to 12 across the province of Quebec.

The program has been rotating through communities in the area since 1998.

It's been offered around five times in Inukjuak, according to Lori-Ann Paige, coordinator of Aboriginal training programs with Cégep de St-Félicien.

"If she can be that active and that great with kids at 69, she's doing something right," said Paige, remembering Weetaluktuk at the start of the program. 

'She inspired me'

Weetaluktuk is the Cégep's oldest childcare graduate so far. 

"She inspired me, in that I can grow up and still graduate and be a part of people in the community," said fellow graduate Sarah Samisack.

Weektaluktuk says her teacher and classmates helped translate the course material from English to Inuktitut for her.

She worked at the childcare centre before entering the program and will continue to work there now that she has graduated.

With files from Mike Salomonie