New northern polytechnic university up for discussion in Inuvik

Over a dozen residents gathered in Inuvik Tuesday night to discuss the future of education in the North, and a main topic of concern was post-secondary education.

'If it's headquartered in Yellowknife, it will fail to meet its objectives,' says Inuvik councillor

Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox says she doesn't think it's necessary for the polytechnic university to have a headquarters. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

Post-secondary education was the main subject Tuesday evening as more than a dozen residents gathered in Inuvik to discuss the future of education in the North.

The Northwest Territories government announced plans in October to transform Aurora College into a polytechnic university, after a review of the college was released last May. An unsettled matter since then has been where the central location should be — a focal point during Tuesday's forum.

Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox, scientific director of Hotii Ts'eeda, the research group that hosted the event, was one of three speakers. She questioned the very idea of centralized headquarters.

"I wonder if there has to be one campus that is bigger or better than the rest. I don't think it has to be that way and I think it's a waste of resources."

More than a dozen residents showed up to talk about the future of education in the Beaufort Delta region. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

Irlbacher-Fox lives in Yellowknife, but she was raised in Inuvik, and understands the challenges students face in the territory's smaller communities. For example, she says living in Yellowknife she sees the different opportunities her children get at school which aren't available in the smaller communities.

Aurora College's main campus is now in Fort Smith, but some say the headquarters for the polytechnic university should be in Yellowknife.

Irlbacher-Fox said although she knows someone has to be in charge and "it would probably be a good thing if there's a independent board of governors," she doesn't think there needs to be a hierarchy.

"I think it's silly not to leverage what Yellowknife has, but I also think it's silly to think that we should put more of the resources into one place, when really it could be distributed ... across the N.W.T."

Everyone else could lose out

"If it's headquartered in Yellowknife, it will fail to meet its objectives," said Inuvik Coun. Steve Baryluk who was one of more than a dozen who attended the forum.

"It will not achieve what it's trying to achieve because again you're centralizing all of the resources into one area and everyone else is losing out."

'If it's headquartered in Yellowknife, it will fail to meet its objectives,' says Inuvik town councillor Steven Baryluk. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

Baryluk said one of the challenges with Yellowknife is that although it's a small city, residents there "don't have that small town mentality, and they don't understand what will and won't work in these smaller communities. Even though they think they do."


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