“I would like to invite my fellow members to join me in congratulating Leanna for completing this respected international program,” said Dan Shewchuk, the minister responsible for Nunavut Arctic College, June 8 in the Nunavut legislature. This year, Nunavut Arctic College also offered its first online UArctic circumpolar studies course, “Introduction to the Circumpolar World.” 

“This marks the first time Arctic College has offered a course entirely on-line through the use of distance technology and the Internet. Tutoring was provided in both Inuktitut and English,” Shewchuk said. “This truly is a great achievement for Arctic College and expands the opportunities available to Nunavummiut. “ Fifteen students from Iqaluit, Ottawa, Cambridge Bay, Kugluktuk, Pangnirtung, Resolute Bay and Rankin Inlet successfully completed the course. and more courses are planned for this fall, Shewchuk said.

The University of the Arctic is a network of more than 100 universities and colleges involved higher education and research around the circumpolar world. UArctic — as it’s often called — also organizes north-to-north exchange programs with its member institutions, such as Nunavut Arctic College, which has been a member of UArctic since 2003. Intended to be a university without walls, offering courses which can be taught on line, UArctic’s courses are designed for delivery in the classroom, through intensive semesters of study or via distance-learning methods.

UArctic’a online circumpolar studies program looks at the lands, peoples, and issues of the Arctic circumpolar world, with the goal of preparing students for advanced study and jobs in resource management, government, engineering and northern tourism. The 15 modules of its introductory course cover such topics as traditional and western knowledge systems, geography, northern peoples and their history, environmental and climate change, economics, indigenous rights and new political structures, and new forms of northern co-operation. Its Bachelor of Circumpolar Studies or BCS is based on a four-year, 120 credit program of study. Students, like Ellsworth, who want to work towards a BCS study for two years, earning 60 credits at one of the member institutions such as Nunavut Arctic College.

On May 12 in Nuuk, at the Arctic Council ministerial meeting, Leona Aglukkaq congratulated UArctic on its 10th anniversary, recognizing “its contribution in developing specialized education aimed at building capacity and fostering traditional and scientific knowledge relevant to Indigenous Peoples, Arctic communities and policy-makers.” But, at the same time as UArctic celebrates its first decade, there’s a group in Iqaluit, the Ilitturvik University Society, which wants to see a “bricks and mortar” university located in Iqaluit. Admissions would be open to everyone, but with a priority for students from Inuit Nunaat. The members of the Ilitturvik society hope an Iqaluit-based university could become a clearinghouse for Nunavut-based scholarship and activism, and inject an Inuit perspective that’s sometimes ignored in discussions on Arctic issues such as mining, sovereignty and climate change.

The university could serve as a home for critical thought in the territory, Kirt Ejesiak, a member of the society, told Nunatsiaq News in an earlier interview. The university would be a place where academics would have the freedom to speak out and criticize the Government of Nunavut or regional Inuit organizations when criticism is needed, he said.