North

Nunavut-Greenland exchange opens doors for students to study abroad

Students from Nunavut will soon be able to take college classes in Greenland, as officials from Nunavut's Arctic College and Clyde River’s Piqqusilirivvik school organize an exchange of programs and classes across the two Inuit regions.

‘Students won’t be just learning the trades but also the culture,’ says Nunavut’s minister of education

'The similarities between our land here and their land, and our spoken language in Inuktitut and Greenlandic means it will be an easier transition for students,' says Joe Adla Kunuk, the president of Nunavut Arctic College. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

Students from Nunavut will soon be able to take college classes in Greenland, as officials from Nunavut's Arctic College and Clyde River's Piqqusilirivvik school organize an exchange of programs and classes across the two Inuit regions.

Paul Quassa, Nunavut’s minister of education, says the exchange program will 'give an incentive for our students to pursue further trades schooling and learn more about their culture.' (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)
"These are two distinctive regions where Inuktitut is the predominant language, so students won't be just learning the trades but also the culture," said Paul Quassa, Nunavut's minister of education.

The exchange is being negotiated with high school Knud Rasmussenip Højskolia and trade and mining school Sanaartornermik Ilinniarfik, both located in the community of Sisimiut.

"This will give an incentive for our students to pursue further trades schooling and learn more about their culture," said Quassa.

Students who partake in the exchange will be able to study in Inuktitut, Greenlandic and in some cases English, depending on what classes they are taking.

Easy transition for Inuit students

"The similarities between our land here and their land, and our spoken language in Inuktitut and Greenlandic means it will be an easier transition for students, not like going to Vancouver or Toronto," said Joe Adla Kunuk, the president of Nunavut Arctic College.

The exchange is going to give students in Nunavut a chance to take programs not currently available in the territory, in places like Nunavut's Arctic College. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)
Adla Kunuk says the exchange will also give students in Nunavut a chance to take programs not currently available in the territory, such as underground mine training.

"There's thousands of jobs that will be required in mining sites in Baker Lake and Rankin Inlet," he said.

"We need to be proactive and start training now, so that Nunavut's Inuit beneficiaries can get the training they need and come back home and be gainfully employed."

History of exchange

Adla Kunuk is one of the many Nunavut students who attended school in Greenland in the past. He says there is a long tradition of Canadian Inuit students who have studied abroad in the country, dating back to the early 1970s.

In the past, the Inuit Circumpolar Council sponsored a Canadian Inuit student to attend school in Greenland, but after that program ended, it was up to interested students to make their own arrangements.  

There's still a lot of logistics that need to be finalized to make the exchange feasible, says Adla Kunuk. There are no direct flights from Nunavut to Greenland, and the schools will have to negotiate visas, financial assistance and housing for students who take part in the program.   

The most recent Nunavut graduate from Greenland was Nadine Chislett, who graduated earlier this week. Minister Quassa attended her graduation ceremony while in the country signing the agreement on the new exchange program.

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.