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‘Education is key’

Bachelor of social work, Nunavut cohort program well under way

Teaching and Learning

By Laura Woodford

The first cohort of six students enrolled in a bachelor of social work program in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, are engaged, passionate and proud to be furthering their education.

A group of students stand shoulder to shoulder wearing gray Memorial sweatshirts. They are standing in front of a blue wall.
From left are Anna Wolki, Larrie Soberano, Vanessa Totalik, Linda Uvilluk, Charles Zikalala and Pauline Pauloosie at Nunavut Arctic College’s Kitikmeot Campus.
Photo: Submitted

As part of a broader partnership between Nunavut Arctic College (NAC) and Memorial University, the School of Social Work is offering a bachelor of social work (BSW) program to graduates of NAC’s social service worker diploma program.

From St. John’s and Nunatsiavut to Cambridge Bay

The BSW, Nunavut cohort program is strongly connected to Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) principles. IQ is recognized to be a unified system of beliefs and knowledge characteristics of the Inuit culture.

School of Social Work faculty in St. John’s have been travelling to Nunavut since the start of the program in September to teach and to enhance their understanding of Inuit culture, history and social context.

During the first term, a number of guest speakers from Nunatsiavut and St. John’s, all Memorial alumni or current students, including an Inuit bachelor of social work program graduate, also visited the Arctic community.

For most of the students, it was the first time they had met an Inuk social worker.

One student said that, “I can and am able to fight for our Inuit customs to be considered to make change in the outside world. I have learned that there are Inuit social workers who are doing this and I would like to be like them.”

Meet the students

All six students shared their thoughts on their program and its impact on them below.

Anna Wolki
Taloyoak, Nunavut

“I feel honoured to be able to continue my education in the bachelor of social work, because there are not many Inuit social workers in Nunavut,” said Ms. Wolki. “I hope to be able to serve Nunavummiut in the helping field and promote other students in Nunavut to join the program and further their education.”

Charles Zikalala
Ghanaian/South African descendant, now lives in Cambridge Bay

“It is a humbling experience to be part of the BSW, Nunavut cohort,” said Mr. Zikalala. “Education is key to serving people and maintaining relationships. It is also the foundational aspect to having an optimal standard of living. I am grateful for this opportunity.”

Pauline Pauloosie
Taloyoak, Nunavut

“I feel honoured to be able to continue my education in the social work field, with the skills learned to become a helper for individuals and communities who are in need,” said Ms. Pauloosie. “My hope for the future is to be a leader, building positive relationships for youth and people by effectively using skills and knowledge that I have learned.”

Larrie Soberano
Originally from the Philippines, now lives in Cambridge Bay

“Before I began this program, I worked many years as a hospital chaplain and a mental health outreach worker,” said Mr. Soberano. “For the past seven years I have been working as a life skills worker at a mental health facility. I am a full-time student in the BSW program and I work full time at the mental health facility.”

Linda Uvilluk
Raised in Igloolik, with her later years in Pangnirtung

“I am happy to be working towards my BSW as I have waited 12 years for this program to be delivered in Nunavut,” said Ms. Uvilluk. “If we wanted to go for our BSW, we would have to go to Whitehorse, Yukon, but I didn’t want to leave Nunavut. I hope to work in a shelter for abused women. Having gone through fleeing an abusive partner, I believe that I would be suitable working in this environment. I love helping people when needed.”

Vanessa Taniki Totalik
Taloyoak, Nunavut

“I’m very ecstatic about getting a degree in social work. As an Inuk living in Nunavut, it is important for me to keep the knowledge and skills I learned from the elders,” said Ms. Taniki Totalik. “For instance, the Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and the Canadian Association of Social Work code of ethics that we follow [helps] to ensure we use our practices in the field to help clients and communities. I believe that we can change the outcome as social workers for Nunavut and encourage more Inuit to have education. Also, we need more Inuit social workers to become educators so that we can build a strong relationship, trust and resiliency for all of Nunavummiut.”

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