North

High school dropout and mother of 5 graduates from Nunavut Teacher Education Program

A high school dropout and mother of five is one of five students from Hall Beach to graduate from the Nunavut Teacher Education Program, earning a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Regina.

‘The best thing about it was not having to move out of my home community’

Graduates of the Nuanvut Teacher Education program were joined by Nuanvut's minister of education Paul Quassa and Vianne Timmons, president and chancellor of the University of Regina. (University of Regina)

Five students from Hall Beach graduated from the Nunavut Teacher Education Program and received Bachelor of Education degrees from the University of Regina in their home community last week.

"It feels like an overwhelming sensation of relief," said Stacey Kadlutsiak.

NTEP students during their fall 2015 internship seminar with their instructor Stephen Snowball. (University of Regina)
The 29-year-old with five children between the ages of two and 10 completed the four-year program and was offered a teaching job in her home community even before her graduation ceremony.

"I always looked up to teachers," said Kadlutsiak.

"That was actually one of my childhood dreams to be a teacher but unfortunately I kind of took a turn in my path."

Kadlutsiak dropped out of high school when she got pregnant and had given up on her hopes of teaching for years.

"I went from job to job and then I started supply teaching at the school and that really brought back my dream," she said.

'Family support right at home'

Luckily an agreement between the Government of Nunavut and the University of Regina brought the teacher education program to Hall Beach. Kadlutsiak completed a foundation year to meet the academic requirements and then entered the four-year program.

"The best thing about it was not having to move out of my home community," said Kadlutsiak.

She admits that if the program was only offered in Regina or even in Iqaluit she would have had difficulty taking part.

"We had family support right at home," she said. "That was one of the benefits of the program, having it here."

With the degree completed and a new teaching job on the horizon, she said she is already making big plans for the future.

"I aim higher that's for sure," said Kadlutsiak.

"I have a new goal: I'm going to go for my master's, I don't know when yet."

The NTEP graduates walk though Hall Beach after their ceremony, many of them hope to stay in the community and teach at the local school. (University of Regina)

'It means a lot to a small community'

The Hall Beach graduates were joined by Paul Quassa, Nunavut's minister of Education as well as Dr. Vianne Timmons, president and chancellor of the University of Regina.

"I think it means a lot to a small community, especially a small community such as Hall Beach," said Timmons.

The program trains Nunavummiut to become teachers in Nunavut's primary and elementary schools. The program includes Inuit content with some core courses offered in Inuktitut.

"In the North teachers come in and out. It's hard to hold on to staff and to have people who are invested in the community," said Timmons.

She said, as someone who grew up in Labrador, she recognizes the importance of the community based program. She and her siblings all had to leave their northern community to attend university and none of them has since returned.

'A tough go even in your own community'

Completing the four-year program as well as a foundation year is a big accomplishment, said Timmons.

"It's a tough go even in your own community," said Timmons.

"We need to be proud of the ones who complete, not all do complete."

She said the university is looking at ways to eliminate any barriers that may prevent students from graduating.

Currently the University of Regina and the Government of Nunavut are reviewing their partnership on this program.   

"I hope it will continue," said Timmons, "I'm personally committed to the North because I grew up there. I know how critical it is to have accessible programs for northerners."

According to Timmons the program is expected to have 20 graduates next year and the university is also looking at providing a community-based master's program in the future.  

About the Author

Sima Sahar Zerehi is a reporter with CBC North. She started her career in journalism with the ethnic press working for a Canadian-based Farsi language newspaper. Her CBC journey began as a regular commentator with CBC radio's Metro Morning. Since then she's worked with CBC in Montreal, Toronto and now Iqaluit.