2023-2024 Year

Beaufort Delta Superintendent Recognized for Excellence

Education in the Beaufort Delta is getting national recognition as the district superintendent has been named the winner of a national award for excellence.

Having served as superintendent of the Beaufort Delta District Education Council (BDDEC) for five years, Devin Roberts has been working to improve education outcomes in the district. That work is starting to bear some fruit — Roberts noted this year 80 per cent of BDDEC students were posting numeracy marks at or above their grade level and added that the district was awarded silver for organizational excellence in 2023 by Excellence Canada. These two improvements, as well as improvements in Canadian achievement test results, prompted the Canadian Association of School System Administrators (CASSA) to name him the 2024 NWT Territorial EXL Award winner.

"I am very honoured to have been selected for this award by my colleagues," said Roberts. "The superintendents association is made up of hard working and inspiring leaders. Therefore, to be honoured by a group of my peers is very special — something I will never forget.

"I share this award with the students and staff. Any recognition our office receives is a reflection of the great work taking place in our schools."

Roberts was nominated for the distinction by his peers with the Northwest Territories Superintendents Association.

He will be presented the award at a ceremony in Montreal in July. Along with the accolades, being named an EXL winner carries with it an honorary lifelong membership in CASSA.

Roberts said he wants to continue implementing a long-term strategic vision for the education council focused on Indigenized education and inquiry.

"I want to support the shift to the British Columbia curriculum as much as possible," he said. "Next year, we are changing in Grade 10. We have a network set up for our high school teachers in Grade 10 to be supported by a consultant from British Columbia. I want to support that network as much as possible. I will be working directly with the principals inquiry network to ensure they are up to date on curriculum changes.

"To make improvements, the vision of the district must be clear and shared. You cannot accomplish great things without everyone working together," Roberts added. "Tapping into people’s 'why' in life and values is another great motivator. For us students, staff and stakeholders all care deeply about education, so uniting with that passion for learning is key."


by Eric Bowling

Inuvik, N.W.T. superintendent gets national recognition

Devin Roberts says his recent award for excellence as a school administrator comes from having a strong team and good communication with parents and students.

Roberts, the superintendent of the Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council, will receive the N.W.T. territorial EXL award – a national award for school superintendents – during a national conference in July.

The association that nominated Roberts is comprised of every other superintendent in the N.W.T.

"It's really nice because it comes from all my colleagues and peers I work well with, they're all hard working and great leaders. I learn a lot from the group," Roberts said.

During that conference, all territorial and provincial award winners will be eligible to receive a national award in excellence.

The education council released a series of books in local Indigenous languages this year and are working with publishers to bring local elders' stories to a younger audience with graphic novels.

Krista Cudmore, the vice-superintendent of the Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council, was one of the nominators to get Roberts the recognition.

Cudmore said Roberts has been working with the students to get their input.

"I think he's had a good response when he has been in the schools," Cudmore said.

"I know that he has started a youth forum with students so when he travels to our communities he makes an effort to meet with these students as well."

Cudmore said that when Roberts is working in an outlying community he makes sure to keep contact with local leadership and holds meetings with staff and students.

"I know that he has put a big effort into trying to recognize the successes of the schools, regionally and also when he goes into each of the communities to make sure that each of their successes is acknowledged," said Cudmore.

Roberts said he wasn't expecting the nomination.

"I was surprised they nominated me and I was really humbled," he said.

Roberts thanks his whole team on the council for their hard work and dedication to the vision they share.

"It's an individual award but you don't accomplish it without a great team, so we have a great senior leadership team, and BDDEC consultants, as well as principals that work really hard," Roberts said.

"Of course what it's about is the students and the teachers and everyone in the schools who work really hard, so I share this award with everyone who is connected with BDDEC and the BDDEC family."

Indigenous Language Children's Books - Indigenous Language Month

Indigenous Language Children's Books - CBC Northbeat February 07, 2024

Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council - 2023 Silver Recipient Organizational Excellence

Recipient Profile
Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council
2023 Silver Recipient
Organizational Excellence®

In 2022, BDDEC partnered with Excellence Canada to improve its services to the eight communities it serves in the Beaufort Delta region of the NWT. Our coach, Catherine Neville, conducted interviews with employees, parents/guardians and stakeholders. BDDEC senior leadership promoted the Excellence Canada initiative circulating a letter and text messaging parents/guardians.

Further engagement with BDDEC senior leadership, former superintendent and a graduate student was hosted to ensure a wide variety of feedback was generated, which helped us identify areas of growth for BDDEC. Major changes included the BDDEC Risk Assessment Plan, a new draft EDI policy and this written submission for an Excellence Canada verification. The development of the BDDEC strategic plan also took into consideration feedback from stakeholders.

Under the advisement of Excellence Canada and the feedback provided by community engagement, BDDEC continues to grow and learn as an organization. BDDEC now has a long-term vision for the district which can be found online at: https://schools.bd-dec.ca/vision27/


(top) Graduation ceremony at East Three Secondary School in Inuvik NWT. (bottom) School camp next to Chief Paul Nitdichie School in Tsiigehtchic.

Students in Inuvik, N.W.T., schooled in local land claims

'It's a living document — they should learn what it's all about,' says Inuvialuit elder Gerry Kisoun

Students at Inuvik's East Three Secondary School learned from local experts about land claims. (Dez Loreen/CBC)

A new program in Inuvik, N.W.T., is teaching students about local land claims.

A social studies class at the East Three Secondary School was the first to take the program.

Diane Baxter, the Gwich'in Tribal Council's senior implementation adviser, and Inuvialuit elder Gerry Kisoun were invited to the class to speak with the students.

Baxter spoke about the Gwich'in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement. Kisoun was able to talk with the class about the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.

"Making it relevant for the students was really important," said social studies teacher Ethan Lavoie.

Lavoie explained the students were able to make their own set of questions for each visitor to ask about the two local land claims.

Kisoun said he is passionate about the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.

"Their parents, their grandparents, their great-grandparents were some of those that sat at that table to help negotiate it," said Kisoun.

"I think it's very important for those students to understand and get better knowledge of what that land claim is. It's a living document — they should learn what it's all about."

The school says the program came from a public suggestion to learn about the local land claims.

Cole Fiedler works for the Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council.

"One of the calls to action they had for us as a school board was to learn about the local land claims," said Fiedler.

"They wanted it outside of just the Northern Studies class."

Work began to create the program. Steve Dagar, Lavoie and Fiedler reached out to the community to find their local experts and build the framework for what the students would learn.

"We did a bunch of background research with the students on our own," said Fiedler.

The students prepared for the visits by learning about local politics like the Berger Inquiry and history of the region.



"That local contact is what they connect to and what's actually important to them," said Fiedler.

"They are hearing from people that either have studied this for the majority of their life and had personal stake in it, like Diane, or primary sources that were actually around when the land claim was signed, like Gerry Kisoun."

The program will be brought back to the next semester's social studies class.


Dez Loreen

Dez Loreen is a reporter with CBC North in Inuvik.

Excellence Canada Announces the 2023 Canada Awards for Excellence Recipients

TORONTO, October 25th, 2023

Excellence Canada is pleased to announce it will be celebrating the 39th anniversary of the Canada Awards for Excellence on November 17th. This year, 12 awards will be presented to outstanding Canadian organizations in recognition of their commitment to continual improvement and pursuit of excellence. Award categories include: Organizational Excellence, Excellence, Innovation & Wellness®; Healthy Workplace®; and Mental Health at Work®.

Excellence Canada’s mission is to help organizations in all sectors become the best-in-class by implementing standards of excellence. Excellence Canada is a not-for-profit organization that certifies and recognizes organizations that embody these attributes: they are innovative, customer-focused, competitive, financially and environmentally sustainable, are good corporate citizens, actively pursue strategies to improve the mental and physical health and wellbeing of their employees, and they create a healthy workplace culture that attracts and retains the best people.

The Canada Awards for Excellence is an annual awards program established in 1984 that recognizes outstanding achievements by organizations in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors coast-to-coast across Canada.

Shirlee Sharkey, Chair of Excellence Canada, said, “On behalf of the Board of Directors of Excellence Canada, I am very pleased to present the Canada Awards for Excellence to this year’s award recipients. I would like to extend congratulations to all of these organizations that have met the rigorous standards and requirements through the Canada Awards for Excellence program. You are all truly role-models of excellence.”

Allan Ebedes, President and CEO of Excellence Canada, remarked, “Over the past 39 years we have recognized more than 690 outstanding organizations in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors that have met the highest standards for quality, excellence, innovation, and healthy workplaces. This year we are delighted to be presenting the coveted Canada Awards for Excellence to 12 excellent organizations. We are also honoured to be presenting the Board of Governors’ Special Recognition of Achievement Awards to three distinguished Canadians: Ajay K. Agrawal, David R. Beatty, and Dr. Samir K. Sinha.”

The awards will be presented at the 2023 Performance Excellence Summit and Canada Awards for Excellence on Friday, November 17th. For complete event details and registration, please visit


For further information, contact:
Allan Ebedes, President and CEO, Excellence Canada, Tel: 416-251-7600, ext. 230

Recipients of the 39th Canada Awards for Excellence, 2023


This award is based on Excellence Canada’s Excellence, Innovation and Wellness® Standard which was developed by Excellence Canada in association with its partners and professionals from across Canada.

Silver Award Recipients
▪ Garantie de construction résidentielle (GCR) – Montréal, Québec
▪ Greenfield Global Quebec Inc. – Varennes, Québec
▪ Logistik Unicorp Inc. – Saint-Jean-sur Richelieu, Québec
▪ Quebec Metallurgy Center – Cégep de Trois-Rivières, Québec


The Excellence Canada Healthy Workplace® Standard was developed in partnership with Health Canada and in association with professionals from the health and wellness sectors.

Platinum Recipient

Gold Award Recipient
▪ Ricoh Canada Inc. – Mississauga, Ontario

Silver Award Recipient
▪ Peel Regional Police – Mississauga, Ontario


This award is based on Excellence Canada’s – Mental Health at Work® framework. The Mental Health at Work® framework was developed by Excellence Canada in association with mental health and work safety professionals from across Canada, and the requirements incorporate principles and practices as outlined in the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.

Gold Award Recipient
▪ Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit – Brockville, Ontario

Silver Award Recipient
▪ Across Boundaries: An Ethnoracial Mental Health Centre – Toronto, Ontario


This award is based on Excellence Canada’s Organizational Excellence Standard which was developed by Excellence Canada in association with its partners and professionals from across Canada. It is a robust yet flexible framework that uses a data-driven assessment to find gaps and opportunities for continual improvement in all private and public sector organizations, businesses, and institutions. Through Organizational Excellence Standard implementation and certification, organizations will adopt best practices for sustained excellence and peak performance.

Order of Excellence Recipient
▪ SE Health – Markham, Ontario

Platinum Award–Recipient
▪ Enterprise Technology Strategy, Government Information Technology Ontario (GovTechON), Ministry of Public & Business Service Delivery – Toronto, Ontario

Gold Award Recipient
▪ Students and Enrolment Division, Carleton University – Ottawa, Ontario

Silver Award Recipient
▪ Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council – Inuvik, Northwest Territories


From time-to-time, the Excellence Canada Board of Governors recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to Canadian society and/or the global human condition. Past Award recipients have included Dr. David Suzuki, former Prime Minister The Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, Lt.-General The Honourable Roméo A. Dallaire, The Honourable Flora MacDonald, Sir Richard Branson, Mr. Rick Hansen, Ms. Margaret Trudeau, Rick Mercer, Bianca Andreescu and Mr. Chris Hadfield.

This year, in keeping with the Summit theme “Moving Forward with Excellence”, the Board of Governors is presenting the Special Recognition of Achievement Award to:

• Ajay K. Agrawal, Geoffrey Taber Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto and NBER, in recognition of groundbreaking work in Artificial Intelligence and distinguished service at the Rotman School of Management and the Creative Destruction Lab.

• David R. Beatty, C.M., O.B.E., F.ICD, CFA, Founding Director, The David & Sharon Johnston Centre for Corporate Governance Innovation, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, in recognition of lifelong commitment to advancing Corporate Governance Innovation and fostering education at the Rotman School of Management.

• Dr. Samir K. Sinha, MD, DPhil, FRCPC, AGSF, Peter and Shelagh Godsoe Chair in Geriatrics and Director of Geriatrics, Sinai Health and the University Health Network, Professor of Medicine, Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto and Adjunct Professor of Medicine Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in recognition of exceptional research and work on developing


Excellence Canada gratefully acknowledges the support of the following organizations that have helped make this year’s events possible.

Industry Sponsors Cocktail Reception Sponsor
Across Boundaries

Carleton University

The Inclusion Project

The Regional Municipality of Durham

The Regional Municipality of York

SE Health

SparkPower Corporation

Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care

CEO Global Network








Networking Break Sponsor Media Sponsor
Wajax Corporation Globe and Mail

About Excellence Canada

Excellence Canada is an independent, not-for-profit corporation that is committed to advancing organizational excellence across Canada. Since 1992, Excellence Canada has helped thousands of organizations become cultures of continuous quality improvement and world-class role models, through its Excellence, Innovation and Wellness® Standard and its four-level progressive methodology.

As a national authority on Quality, Healthy Workplace®, and Mental Health at Work™, Excellence Canada provides excellence frameworks, standards, and independent verification and certification to organizations of all sizes and in all sectors. It is also the custodian and adjudicator of the Canada Awards for Excellence program.

For more information, please contact us:

Excellence Canada
Russ Gahan, Vice President, Operations
Email: Russ@excellence.ca
O: 416.251.7600 x 249
M: 416.888.3463

Beaufort Delta to offer prizes to boost school attendance

The Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council will soon be offering students prizes ranging from school supplies and gift cards to a trip to Inuvik to go swimming at the Midnight Sun Complex. The new program is a partnership with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation.

2022-2023 Year

Students in Inuvik, N.W.T., build and fly their own drones

Students in Inuvik are getting a higher education this week.

Drone training has been happening for Grade 7 and 8 students at East Three Secondary School.

Students are being taught regulations, safety rules and the different things drones can be used for.

Once they learned the rules and what is legally allowed, they were able to fly mini-drones in their school.

The groups were also able to assemble their own drones and fly them inside the classroom.

Maverick Aleekuk-Lennie is a Grade 7 student who is really interested in technology and was eager to pilot a drone on his own.

A portrait of a youth posing pensively.
Maverick Aleekuk-Lennie, a Grade 7 student at East Three Secondary School, was eager to pilot a drone on his own.  (Dez Loreen/CBC)

"We're seeing through the eyes of a non-living thing that we control and it goes a lot faster than us," he said.

The one-day program is being hosted by Indigenous Aerospace, a group that promotes and educates drone use in remote communities across Canada.

Jacob Taylor is the CEO of Indigenous Aerospace and was in Inuvik to help facilitate the event.

Taylor said bringing drones into the schools and giving students first-hand knowledge is the first step in starting careers in that field.

"The program is really great at inspiring young people to engage in science, technology, engineering and math careers as well as curriculums so it's a really positive retention tool," said Taylor.

The introduction to drone piloting is something that really interested Grade 8 student Thomas Wilbert Thrasher. He plans on starting a company that produces video games, and this technology is something he would like to use in the future.

Two kids work to assemble electronic parts at a table.
The students built the drones from scratch. (Dez Loreen/CBC)

"I just really want to start my own company. I really want to learn how to code video games, I have been learning about that for a while," said Thrasher.

Using a drone to scan and map areas is something of interest to Thrasher so he can integrate that into his video games.

Thrasher hopes to see more programs like this in the school soon.

"This is really interesting and they should do it more," he said.

Educational Exchange Newsletter


Nicolas Kopot
Principal, Helen Kalvak Elihakvik School (Ulukhaktok, NT)
Graduate of the Bachelor of Education program (2010); Master of Education for Change program (2015)
“Growing up in Thunder Bay, I had a predominantly westernized education that privileged linearity and results. As I have gained experience as a teacher and an administrator, I have been consciously decolonizing my mind and my practice. I am fortunate to be in a territory that is experiencing a curriculum renewal—shifting from outcome-based to a competency and skills-based inquiry model.
I am currently in my 8th year in the Beaufort Delta of the Northwest Territories. I am privileged to work and play in a small Inuvialuit hamlet called Ulukhaktok. Ulu, as it is commonly known, is on Canada’s second largest island, Victoria Island. I am a teaching principal at a school of 120 mostly Inuvialuit students. As teaching positions in the Thunder Bay region were quite sparse following my BEd, I opted to continue in the honors year of my BA (French) at Lakehead. Throughout that year, I also worked as a tutor at Scholars Education, and taught many Kindergarten-Grade 8 French Immersion classrooms across Thunder Bay as a substitute. In 2011, I accepted a full-time teaching position in Nunavut. What a wonderful, eye-opening experience that was! I instantly fell in love with the North, the Inuit culture, and the reciprocal way of life. Many have heard the expression “it takes a village…”—I experienced this, first hand.
After some moves around the country, I returned to Thunder Bay in 2014. That summer, I had the fortune of sitting with a senior member of Lakehead’s Faculty of Education. As we discussed our unique travels and shared experiences in the North of Canada, he inspired me to reflect deeply on my educational journey. With his encouragement, I chose to apply to the inaugural year of the Education for Change, Masters of Education program at Lakehead. This decision would forever change me. After working four semesters consecutively, I graduated in the summer of 2015 with my MEd, specializing in Indigenous Education. I can thank my Indigenous Education professor (among others) from my BEd year for inspiring me to take a path towards genuine community building.
I am inspired to lead a school through inclusion, collaboration, and co-regulation. Much of my time is devoted to promoting a healthy environment for my students to define success through their voice and choice. This enables our students to actively co-create meaningful learning experiences. My passion remains in place-based education where my community’s values are not only reflected in the pedagogical practices of my teachers: they are the foundation for all programming. My advice for new teachers is to find a school system that fits your values. Remember: half of the equation is what you do; the other half is who you do it with. There are many teaching positions around the country; do not be afraid to find the right place for you!”

Beaufort Delta District Education Council unveils five-year vision

Beaufort Delta District Education Council (BDDEC) is aggressively working to improve graduation rates.

Superintendent Devin Roberts said the district has gone so far as to expand its team of mobile teachers.

“This year new trades teachers were hired to travel the district and provide more high school courses to smaller schools outside of Inuvik,” he said. “The plan is to improve graduation rates and reduce the number of students who enter grade ten but do not graduate. This has become a focus of the BDDEC vision which we hope to report on over the next five to ten years.”

As of the 2020/2021 year, the six-year graduation rate for the Northwest Territories is 60 per cent. Split between regions, the rate is 74 per cent in Yellowknife, 55 per cent in regional centres like Inuvik and 45 per cent in smaller communities. Graduation rates for Indigenous students is 49 per cent across the territory, compared to 81 per cent for non-Indigenous students. Roberts said BDDEC wants to turn those lower numbers around.

It is part of BDDEC’s overall 2022 to 2027 vision, developed by a council with representatives from all eight Beaufort Delta communities. The vision will renew the district’s focus on the Dene Kede and Inuuqatigiit curriculum, which teachers are expected to bring into lessons as much as possible. To help facilitate this, teachers are encouraged to bring in knowledge keepers and Elders to help students learn traditional skills, stories and languages alongside learning science, technology, engineering and math.

A renewed focus on trades education as well as mental wellness is also part of the new vision. Roberts said the vision follows a concept of three “I’s” — Indigenized Education, Inquiry and Inclusive Schooling.

“Decolonizing the education system as much as possible within our local locus of control is a main priority for BDDEC,” he said. “The efforts to advance truth and reconciliation can be seen with the Elders in the School programs and BDDEC’s new vision which includes a focus on voice and choice for students. The voices of the youth in the region must be valued, fostered and supported throughout their education. BDDEC has asked all schools to develop a student council. These student councils will work together to provide youth more of a forum to bring forward ideas and concerns about their education system in real time.

“Also in the day to day classes BDDEC teachers are providing students more opportunities for voice and choice using inquiry as the main method of teaching. Students become active in their learning. They are encouraged to practice and become more comfortable with oracy skills. This is supported through partner talks and small group work eventually building students up to become confident in public speaking, presenting, critical thinking and articulation. The students are the future leaders of the communities and thus BDDEC believes fostering communication skills will support the youth in becoming confident leaders.”

To help students feel more included, the district has re-branded its logo and purchased orange lighting to shine the message that Every Child Matters throughout the dark Beaufort Delta nights.

Implementation of the new vision is already underway, after a motion at the annual District Education Council meeting in March set it in action. Roberts said the first step of that is community engagement to gather feedback on where the vision is going. Changes from said feedback will be announced this fall. After that, the plan is to partner with the Gwich’in Tribal Council and Inuvialuit Regional Corporation to develop a 10-year plan for student success across the Beaufort Delta.

“In the meantime staff have been trained using the Dene Kede and Inuuqatigiit curriculums learning how to Indigenize programming,” said Roberts. “Partnerships between schools, Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers are underway. An Inquiry network for teachers and principals meets monthly. The inquiry networks are supported by consultants and BDDEC senior management.

“BDDEC has a repository of lessons and strategies to support Indigenized Education, Inquiry and Inclusive Schooling through Google Drive available to staff. BDDEC senior leadership and a team of consultants travel the district supporting schools with the BDDEC vision.”


Every night since last Sept. 30, Beaufort Delta District Education Council’s windows have glowed orange to remind the world that Every Child Matters. Photo courtesy of Beaufort Delta District Education Council

Every night since last Sept. 30, Beaufort Delta District Education Council’s windows have glowed orange to remind the world that Every Child Matters. Photo courtesy of Beaufort Delta District Education Council



Beaufort Delta District Education Council unveils five-year vision

Beaufort Delta District Education Council (BDDEC) is aggressively working to improve graduation rates.

Superintendent Devin Roberts said the district has gone so far as to expand its team of mobile teachers.

“This year new trades teachers were hired to travel the district and provide more high school courses to smaller schools outside of Inuvik,” he said. “The plan is to improve graduation rates and reduce the number of students who enter grade ten but do not graduate. This has become a focus of the BDDEC vision which we hope to report on over the next five to ten years.”

As of the 2020/2021 year, the six-year graduation rate for the Northwest Territories is 60 per cent. Split between regions, the rate is 74 per cent in Yellowknife, 55 per cent in regional centres like Inuvik and 45 per cent in smaller communities. Graduation rates for Indigenous students is 49 per cent across the territory, compared to 81 per cent for non-Indigenous students. Roberts said BDDEC wants to turn those lower numbers around.

It is part of BDDEC’s overall 2022 to 2027 vision, developed by a council with representatives from all eight Beaufort Delta communities. The vision will renew the district’s focus on the Dene Kede and Inuuqatigiit curriculum, which teachers are expected to bring into lessons as much as possible. To help facilitate this, teachers are encouraged to bring in knowledge keepers and Elders to help students learn traditional skills, stories and languages alongside learning science, technology, engineering and math.

A renewed focus on trades education as well as mental wellness is also part of the new vision. Roberts said the vision follows a concept of three “I’s” — Indigenized Education, Inquiry and Inclusive Schooling.

“Decolonizing the education system as much as possible within our local locus of control is a main priority for BDDEC,” he said. “The efforts to advance truth and reconciliation can be seen with the Elders in the School programs and BDDEC’s new vision which includes a focus on voice and choice for students. The voices of the youth in the region must be valued, fostered and supported throughout their education. BDDEC has asked all schools to develop a student council. These student councils will work together to provide youth more of a forum to bring forward ideas and concerns about their education system in real time.

“Also in the day to day classes BDDEC teachers are providing students more opportunities for voice and choice using inquiry as the main method of teaching. Students become active in their learning. They are encouraged to practice and become more comfortable with oracy skills. This is supported through partner talks and small group work eventually building students up to become confident in public speaking, presenting, critical thinking and articulation. The students are the future leaders of the communities and thus BDDEC believes fostering communication skills will support the youth in becoming confident leaders.”

To help students feel more included, the district has re-branded its logo and purchased orange lighting to shine the message that Every Child Matters throughout the dark Beaufort Delta nights.

Implementation of the new vision is already underway, after a motion at the annual District Education Council meeting in March set it in action. Roberts said the first step of that is community engagement to gather feedback on where the vision is going. Changes from said feedback will be announced this fall. After that, the plan is to partner with the Gwich’in Tribal Council and Inuvialuit Regional Corporation to develop a 10-year plan for student success across the Beaufort Delta.

“In the meantime staff have been trained using the Dene Kede and Inuuqatigiit curriculums learning how to Indigenize programming,” said Roberts. “Partnerships between schools, Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers are underway. An Inquiry network for teachers and principals meets monthly. The inquiry networks are supported by consultants and BDDEC senior management.

“BDDEC has a repository of lessons and strategies to support Indigenized Education, Inquiry and Inclusive Schooling through Google Drive available to staff. BDDEC senior leadership and a team of consultants travel the district supporting schools with the BDDEC vision.”

Trapping, science, baking and more at BDDEC wisdom fest

Students from across the Beaufort Delta showed off their passion for knowledge at Beaufort Delta District Education Council’s Wisdom Fest. The annual fair allows students to explore projects in science, passion or heritage and provides cash prizes for the best work in several age groups. Students learned about concepts are varied as the political spectrum to hunting and trapping techniques and beyond.

This year’s medallists are:


Grades 4 to 6

East Three Elementary School – Rita Garaba – first

East Three Elementary School – Atticus Willkomm – second

Moose Kerr School – Yehya Ayache – third

Grades 7 to 9

Moose Kerr School – Maryam Ayache – first

Mangilaluk School – Owen Whynot – second

Grades 10 to 12

East Three Secondary School William – Rogers and Rylan Wainman – first

Harmonie MacLeod-Lennie and Chloe Frost were second place in the passion project category. Eric Bowling/NNSL photo


Grades 4 to 6

Chief Paul Niditchie School – Payton Inglangasuk and Cruz Blake Storr – first

Chief Paul Niditchie School – Sydney Van Loon – second

East Three Elementary School – Claire Letendre, Bristol Pidborochynski, and Avery Cardinal-Blake – third

Grades 7 to 9

East Three secondary School – Bea Dhungel – first

Chief Julius School – Diezel Blake, Aubrey Francis Norman, Alexis Koe, Jathena Vaneltsi, Krystal Firth, Adrianna Koe, Kiedyn Nerysoo, and Leah Vittrekwa – second

Chief Julius School – Aliayah Alexie and CJS Grade 8 Class – third

Grades 10 to 12

Moose Kerr School – Husineh Ayache and Sarah Meyook – first

East Three Secondary School – Alexandria Ruben – second

East Three Secondary School – Daniel Hartley – third


Grades 4 to 6

East Three Elementary School – Valerie Salloman – first

Chief Paul Niditchie School – Harmonie MacLeod-Lennie and Chloe Frost – second

Mangilaluk School – Trent Wolki – third

Grades 7 to 12

Moose Kerr School – Sydney McLeod – first

Mangilaluk School – Izaak Cockney – second

Moose Kerr School – Kylar Irish – third

Grades 10 to 12

East Three Secondary School – Rowan McInnes and Dezso Garaba – first

Chief Paul Niditchie School – James Arey-Cardinal – second

Mangilaluk School – Alex Wolki – third


Harmonie MacLeod-Lennie and Chloe Frost were second place in the passion project category. Eric Bowling/NNSL photo

Harmonie MacLeod-Lennie and Chloe Frost were second place in the passion project category. Eric Bowling/NNSL photo

How a wrestling program took off in Ulukhaktok

At this year’s Arctic Winter Games, the NWT had two wrestlers on its team. Both of them came from Ulukhaktok.

Ben Inuktalik and Hunter Kitekudlak, both 13, were coached by fellow Ulukhaktok resident and Arctic Winter Games alumnus Jacob Klengenberg – and by school counsellor Monique Smith.

Smith was a university wrestler and had a good friend, Leah Ferguson, compete for Canada at the London 2012 Olympics.

Ferguson has since worked to develop Indigenous coaches and wrestlers in northern Manitoba. When Smith was contracted to work in Ulukhaktok, Gamètì and Wekweètì, she borrowed from Ferguson’s playbook and persuaded territorial sports agency Sport North to help find money for wrestling mats in each of the three communities.

“I’m up there anyway, why not volunteer wrestling?” Smith said she thought at the time.

“Therapeutically, when you create connections with kids – even outside the office – you have such a cool opportunity to meet the kids on their level.

“We do a lot of the therapeutic skills: we do mindfulness grounding, we do deep breathing. The things I’m trying to teach in the office, I can teach them on the wrestling mat.”

Klengenberg competed at the 2016 and 2018 Arctic Winter Games in snowshoe biathlon, a sport he took up following the efforts of an iconic NWT coach: the late Pat Bobinski.

Bobinski, who passed away in 2017, famously and tirelessly established biathlon as a sport in a wide range of northern communities, earning renown for the dedication with which he supported both his sport and young athletes.

Klengenberg said he sees some of that in Smith’s approach to wrestling.

“As somebody who has experienced somebody coming into the community and pretty-well dropping their impact, so to say, it’s sparking interest in the kids and the kids’ lives,” he said.

“They’re getting to know themselves as people, and I really think that’s awesome.

“Monique Smith has been amazing for not only the mental health side of things for our community, but also physical health and stuff like that.”

Monique Smith with Jacob Klengenberg
Monique Smith with Jacob Klengenberg. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
At the Arctic Winter Games in Fort McMurray, Inuktalik and Kitekudlak were cheered on and offered support by other teams at their first large wrestling event of any kind.

Inuktalik told Cabin Radio he had only been wrestling for about three months before making the trip. He admitted being “a little bit scared” of the level of competition, but added it was “cool how big it is” in the giant sports centre that hosted this year’s wrestling events.

“I just had fun wrestling. It’s so much fun,” added Kitekudlak.

“The biggest thing is character,” said Smith. “It’s about integrity, and we’ve just watched these kids grow and their character, so to me, that’s a success.”

Smith wants the program to expand, but first it has to survive the personnel churn that is a common threat to sports in smaller northern communities.

Often, no sooner has a program taken hold than the person running it ends up elsewhere and momentum ebbs away.

In this case, Smith is no longer contracted to work in Ulukhaktok and Klengenberg is soon joining the RCMP, leaving the new team’s future uncertain.

“My whole mentality is: let’s find people at the local level who we can train to be coaches, because there’s only one of me and at the end of the day, we want to create a sustainable program,” said Smith.

The North American Indigenous Games, being held in Halifax this summer, are the next milestone. Smith is hoping to find a way to train up some female wrestlers for selection to Team NT alongside the boys, and “hopefully build up some coaches as well in the meantime.”

To anyone who wants to become a wrestling coach, she said: “Let’s do it, let’s get it started.”

Currie, Crook and Kilo: NWT names its first music award winners

Currie, Crook and Kilo: NWT names its first music award winners


Miranda Currie, Crook the Kid and Kilo November were among the winners as Music NWT staged its inaugural awards ceremony in Yellowknife on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Yellowknives Dene Drummers, Ted Wesley and Norm Glowach entered a newly formed NWT music hall of fame during a combined awards and induction ceremony at the Explorer Hotel.

Drummer Cody Drygeese said the award demonstrated the health of Dene drumming.

“I’m very happy to say that right now we have many people in our First Nation who are still participating in this ancient cultural practice,” he said.

Cody Drygeese, who appeared on behalf of the Yellowknives Dene Drummers for their induction into the NWT's music hall of fame
Cody Drygeese, who appeared on behalf of the Yellowknives Dene Drummers for their induction into the NWT’s music hall of fame. Megan Miskiman/Cabin Radio

Guitarist Ted Wesley passed away last December. Sister-in-law Heather Pritchard, appearing on his behalf, said Ted was “a wonderful musician with a very large range” who obsessively studied songs he heard.

“He didn’t do music for money or fame. He mostly played for free,” she said. “And he missed his chance for fame when he went to the Juno Awards, because they really wanted to sign up this wonderful young talent, but he would have to move to Toronto. And who the hell wants to leave the North to move to Toronto?”

Mayor of Yellowknife Rebecca Alty, introducing Norm Glowach as the night’s final inductee, noted he had spent decades focusing his immense skillset, from musical ability to audio engineering, on the Northwest Territories.

“I’m lucky,” said Glowach. “I get to record people. I get to work with my bandmates, who I have been playing with in Priscilla’s Revenge for 15 years. This is a pretty good life, I’d recommend it to anybody.”

Currie, named the NWT’s Indigenous artist of the year on Saturday, recently released an album designed to help children learn their traditional language.

“Every time I hear Miranda play, her music plays in my mind for the next six hours,” said the ceremony’s host, Inuk author and throat-singer Tanya Snow.

Al Bee, right, receives the 2022 NWT Music Award for best new album
Al Bee, right, receives the 2022 NWT Music Award for best new album. Megan Miskiman/Cabin Radio
Crook the Kid at the 2022 NWT Music Awards
Crook the Kid at the 2022 NWT Music Awards. Megan Miskiman/Cabin Radio

“It feels really nice that folks are recognizing my music,” Currie told Cabin Radio.

“We played a lot of shows this week and kids are singing the songs and the lyrics, even for the new album. That’s the thing that always touches me the most, when you see parents and kids singing along to stuff.


“You’re like, yay, because I write this music with a message to change that Indigenous narrative in Canada, starting with young people and their families.”

Gnarwhal’s Deep Spaced was crowned the best new single of the past year. The award for best new album went to Al Bee’s One From The Other.

Kilo November, the teenage DJ who sensationally closed the Cabin Stage at Folk on the Rocks 2019 and returned in 2021, was honoured for the territory’s best live performance.

Kilo November performs at Folk on the Rocks 2019.

“I’m still shocked. I kind-of don’t believe it,” said the 14-year-old, adding he discovered he had been nominated after his mom received the call while he played video games.

“She came into my room and said, ‘Something crazy has happened.’ I’m like, ‘What?’ And she’s like, ‘You’ve been nominated for this music award thingy.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh no way, that’s awesome.’

“I decided not to get my hopes up because I didn’t honestly think I would win.”

Fort Good Hope rapper Crook the Kid, who performed on the night, won the songwriting award of excellence. “I can’t believe someone in this room thought it was OK to give me an award,” he told the audience, laughing, following his set.

Other performances at the gala, opened by the Yellowknives Dene Drummers, included Nara, Johnny Cole, SkyFire Taiko (a form of Japanese percussion), Munya Mataruse, Five Thirds Mad, and Brenden MacIntosh, who won best debut release for Coffee Break.

Brenden MacIntosh performs at the 2022 NWT Music Awards
Brenden MacIntosh, centre, performs at the 2022 NWT Music Awards. Megan Miskiman/Cabin Radio
David Dowe accepts a music industry award at the 2022 NWT Music Awards
David Dowe accepts a music industry award at the 2022 NWT Music Awards. Megan Miskiman/Cabin Radio

David Dowe’s Double D Studios won 2022’s music industry award, while Inuvik’s Great Northern Arts Festival won an award recognizing its work as a venue. Inuvik resident Abe Drennan collected that award on the event’s behalf before picking up the night’s fan choice award.

Saturday’s ceremony, the first such awards night ever staged by Music NWT, took place in a gold-bedecked banquet hall with two stages and a live online broadcast.

The event was masterminded by Music NWT’s president, Trevor Sinclair, in the hope that a dedicated and, by Yellowknife’s standards, lavish annual awards night will help to give the territory’s industry a higher profile.

The winners, in the order they were announced:

  • Songwriting: Crook the Kid
  • Music Industry: Double D Studios
  • Venue: Great Northern Arts Festival
  • Live Performance: Kilo November
  • Music Video: Keith Robertson for Thin Ice, by Andrea Bettger
  • Fan Choice: Abe Drennan
  • Indigenous Artist: Miranda Currie
  • Debut Release: Brenden MacIntosh
  • New Single: Gnarwhal for Deep Spaced
  • New Album: Al Bee for One From The Other

See the full list of nominees in our earlier coverage.

Fan favourite Abe Drennan could not be more grateful by Eric Bowling October 5, 2022

Abe Drennan can’t say enough thanks to his fans.

He was named the first-ever NWT Music Awards Fan Choice at the first-ever gala Sept. 10 — edging out other big-name artists like Leela and Jay Gilday’s project Sechile – Sedare and the band Welders Daughter — for his music video Way Up North, which he filmed with local video-pro David Stewart. The video was also nominated for Music Video Excellence.

“It was amazing. It was an exhilarating feeling,” he said. “Right before the nominees are announced, you get this whole build-up and all of a sudden my name came up. I was just so happy.

“The Fan Choice award is a great award to win. All the awards are great, but I think the Fan Choice is great because you’re chosen by the people who listen to and like your music. And that matters most, because without our fans as artists we’re just folks making music in our basements. The fans are the ones who appreciate and value what we do — how could I not be more grateful.”

With 20 years of work put into his music, Drennan said being named the fan favourite felt like an acknowledgement of the time he’s put into his craft. But more-so he said it was the result of the many friends he’s made through music along the way.

“For years and years I have been sharing my music with people,” he said. “From my hometown in Bancroft, Ont. which I know is always supporting my music and what I’m doing, and folks from here and family and friends. It’s just a culmination of time. That adds up and those relationships build.

“I’m all about connecting to people and building meaningful relationships. That’s who I am. And you know, I know my people have my back, but this was just a further confirmation of that. It just felt so good.”

His own recognition aside, Drennan said it was an important milestone for the NWT to host an Music Awards Gala and the effort to bring it about has been underway for a long time.

Put on by Music NWT and initially pushed by Trevor Sinclair, the awards ceremony was the first of its kind.

“It’s was an important step in establishing our musical community in the NWT,” he said. “It was good for artist recognition, good for community building and great connecting with everybody.

“Many of the award winners and such were people I haven’t had the chance to meet face to face, but I have been collaborating with people around the NWT virtually for over a year now and finally we came together. It so special that way.”

Now that he’s earned his mantelpiece, Drennan is back to his life’s work, with plans to put together a new single and album over the winter.

He said he’s working on an EP with Bell Rock recording out of Fort Smith, but didn’t have a release date yet. So stay tuned.

“I’m honoured and grateful to be chosen for the fan choice,” he said. “Shout out to Trevor Sinclair and the NWT Board of Directors and to all the award winners and nominees — it was such an honour to be a part of it all.”

Ulukhaktok mural reflects life in a new land for Muslim teen from Ontario

Ulukhaktok mural reflects life in a new land for Muslim teen from Ontario

A girl wearing a head scarf stands behind a large painting.
Ruqaiyah Noor-e-Zahra Naqvi stands with the mural she and fellow student Alison Klengenberg-Kuneluk painted. (Submitted by Nicholas Kopot)

For 17-year-old Ruqaiyah Noor-e-Zahra Naqvi, living in the small N.W.T. hamlet of Ulukhaktok means muskox hunts, snowfalls like she's never seen before, drum dances and ravens.

Naqvi, a Muslim student at Helen Kalvak School who recently moved to the community of about 400 people, brought all those concepts together with the help of fellow student Alison Klengenberg-Kuneluk for a mural that now hangs on a wall at the school.

"It's definitely [an] interesting thing for me to try, because I never worked on a project that big," said Naqvi, who is in Grade 12.

"I think definitely because of the friends I've met here, I was able to try new things and kind of open myself up a bit."

Naqvi and her family moved to Ulukhaktok in 2020 when her mother took a job as a junior high teacher at the school. It was an unplanned move for the family, who had been living in Burlington, Ont.

"When we were going to move to Ulukhaktok … I almost felt like I get to see another view, another side of my brothers or sisters in humanity," said Ambreen Zahra Bokhari, Naqvi's mother. "We are all part of the same light."

Three smiling women and girls in a selfie taken against a backdrop of tall blue flowers and green grass.
Ruqaiya Noor-e-Zahra Naqvi, left, with her mom Ambreen Zahra Bohari and sister Sakina-Mariam Sufia Naqvi. The family moved to Ulukhaktok in 2020. (Submitted by Ambreen Zahra Bohari)

Though out of her comfort zone at first, Naqvi soon settled in. She began to meet people, make friends, and started her own creative arts club. She joined a muskox hunt with other students, took part in a drum dance and learned from elders about what they experienced at residential schools.

"It broke my heart," she said of hearing those residential school experiences. "But I think the point of them sharing it was to remind people of how far they've come in what has happened in the past, so you don't forget."

She wove those emotional and special experiences all together with paint. She's thankful, she said, for the history, culture and knowledge people have shared with her.

"If you told me two or three years ago that I would go hunting for muskox for nine hours in deep snow … I would be like, 'Are you crazy? I would never do something like that!'" she said.

"That's an experience you don't forget."

The mural is one of 33 funded by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and commissioned by the Inuvialuit Community Economic Development Organization back in March as part of the Inuvialuit Mural Project. The project aimed to support artists across the Inuvialuit Settlement Region with a stipend for their work.

A group of people stand and sit around a mural.
Joanne Ogina, Mary Kudlak, Agnes Kuptana, Annie Inuktalik, Alison Klengenberg-Kuneluk, Annie Goose and Ruqaiyah Noor-e-Zahra Naqvi show off the school's new mural. (Submitted by Nicholas Kopot)

Though most of the artists for the other murals are Inuvialuit, school principal Nicholas Kopot recommended Naqvi and Klengenberg-Kuneluk for this one — an unusual opportunity for the new student.

Alexandrea Gordon, communications manager for the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, said in an email that individual community corporations selected the various artists.

She wrote that the decision to allow a non-Indigenous student to be one of the painters "demonstrates how inclusive our people are."

Gordon said the idea was to give artists freedom to express empowerment, culture and self-pride.

"This allowed the artists to create art without boundaries," she wrote.

Naqvi's finished product features a pink-cheeked girl with an ulu-shaped earring, breathing on her mitts to warm her hands. Three hills rise amidst clouds, and a baby raven takes flight over the silhouettes of a woman and a child holding hands. The silhouettes represent the important message of Orange Shirt Day.

"I thought, there's a lot of great things, but you shouldn't forget about the sad things that happened as well," she explained.

Copies of all the murals will be displayed down the streets of Inuvik early this winter.

With files from Karli Zschogner

GNWT job satisfaction increasingly resembles shrug emoji

The latest GNWT satisfaction survey suggests life at the territorial government is, for an increasing number of staff, as appetizing as a gentle slap in the face with a wet fish.

While a majority of employees are broadly happy, results published on Tuesday show morale has dipped since a 2016 survey and pride in the NWT government is slipping.

Sixty-five percent of people said they are proud to work at the GNWT, a drop of six percent since 2016. Sixty-six percent of people said they’d recommend the GNWT as a great place to work, also a six-percent decline.


Seventy-four percent of staff responding to the survey said they agreed with the phrase: “Overall, I am satisfied in my work as a GNWT employee.” That figure had dropped just under one percent since the last survey and has essentially remained unchanged for a decade or more.

Overall, the survey reported a 3.4-percent drop in GNWT morale since 2016. High turnover rates and an inability (or disinclination) to take annual leave were highlighted issues. The report containing the results stated that the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated travel rules were probably factors.

A GNWT press release about the results on Tuesday avoided mentioning any of them, though there were some bright spots among a general sense of mild decay.

“These results provide the GNWT with the information needed to improve employee engagement and satisfaction across the public service,” said finance minister Caroline Wawzonek, whose department oversees human resources.

The good news? NWT government staff think some aspects of diversity at work are going well.

Seventy-five percent of respondents agreed that “the GNWT promotes cross-cultural awareness opportunities for employees,” a whopping nine-percent increase on 2016’s figure and the largest improvement across any aspect of the survey. The report’s authors concluded GNWT initiatives in this area are having “tangible impacts.”

On top of that, 90 percent of respondents said they have good relations with their coworkers. More than 80 percent find at least some of their work “challenging and interesting.”

Yet despite this, only 52 percent of people responding agreed with the statement: “I would describe our workplace as being psychologically healthy.” (This was a new question for 2021 and doesn’t have a previous result for the purposes of comparison.)

Only 57 percent said they felt valued as a GNWT employee.


If you work at the GNWT, you may find some of the lowest scores telling.

Just 37 percent of respondents, the survey’s lowest score, agreed that “the GNWT has adequate reward programs in place to help celebrate and acknowledge individual and team efforts.” (The report recommends, as one solution, that “employees may be given pay-for-performance as a reward for work well done.”

Forty-nine percent agreed that “essential information flows effectively from senior leadership to staff.” Those were the only two scores below 50 percent.

You can find report cards by department and agency on the GNWT’s website.

Students' caribou hunt in Aklavik provides meat for entire school

Students' caribou hunt in Aklavik provides meat for entire school

A group of students from Aklavik, N.W.T., went on a caribou hunt with some experienced hunters earlier this month. They came back with six animals — enough for every student at the local school to bring some meat home. (Inuvialuit Regional Corporation)

It was an all-new experience for Jordan Archie.

"My brothers and them would go, but for me, this was my first time ever going caribou hunting," said Archie, a student at Moose Kerr School in Aklavik, N.W.T.

Archie was part of a group of students from the school that teamed up with some local hunters this month to harvest some caribou. It was organized as a one-on-one learning experience on the land, with six students and six experienced hunters.

"I think of it as a great opportunity and I was thankful of going," Archie said.

Megan Lennie, a regional youth coordinator with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC), helped organize the event along with another teacher at the school. It was organized through Project Jewel, an on-the-land wellness initiative run by the IRC.

Lennie said the original idea for the hunt came from a student.

"They wanted a community harvest but they had no knowledge on how to get up there, and what the terrain was going to be like," Lennie said.

"So it was a perfect way to encourage knowledge sharing, and to provide meat to the entire school."

The six students — all boys, aged 16 to 18 — were teamed with six older hunters. (Inuvialuit Regional Corporation)

She said it all came together quickly.

"The idea came on Wednesday and we ran it … we decided to run it the next Monday. So then the boys went out on Monday to harvest," she said.

It was a cold day — around –27 C with the wind chill, Lennie said. They packed up some sandwiches and snacks for the six students and off they went.

The Porcupine caribou herd was not far from the community, so it was possible to do the excursion as a day-trip.

Some of the students had been hunting before, but Lennie said it was still a good learning experience for them.

'It was a perfect way to encourage knowledge sharing, and to provide meat to the entire school,' said organizer Megan Lennie, regional youth coordinator with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. (Submitted by Megan Lennie)

"We were explaining to them, you know, it's important to learn from different people so you could get a couple different tricks up your sleeve, and share that to your own family."

The group returned to town just as it was getting dark, Lennie recalled. She was waiting for them at her in-laws' house.

"It was kind of beautiful … we saw the lights of 10 skidoos coming down off the hill."

The next day, the harvested animals — six of them — were taken to the school to be skinned and butchered. Lots of people from the community, including parents and elders, came to watch and participate. Everyone went home with some meat.

The day after the hunt, students and other community members all helped with the skinning and butchering. (Inuvialuit Regional Corporation)

Archie missed that part, though — he was still worn out from the hunt. There wasn't a lot of snow yet on the land so the travel had been rough and exhausting.

"I was still at home sleeping, stiff and sore. That's why I didn't have a chance to get any skinning or butchering of the caribou," he said.

With files from Wanda McLeod

‘We need to do this as a community’: Abe Drennan celebrates pandemic resilience with ‘Unknown Road’


Inuvik singer-songwriter Abe Drennan remembers the fear that gripped him in the first weeks of the pandemic.

“I went out to buy groceries at Stanton for the first time since we shut down,” he remembers. “And I remember feeling a real fear that I have never felt before — I’ve felt fear before, but not like this. And it was going to the grocery store.”

“Whenever I feel something like that, something that powerful, I have to work it through it, through song and through writing.”

Almost two-and-a-half years later, that writing process turned out “Unknown Road,” a modern folk tune that reflects on the resilience of the Inuvik community in the face of pandemic adversity.

Gradually, the community was able to come back together as restrictions were lifted and life returned to normal. “Trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel was really hard sometimes, right?” says Drennan. “But when the mask mandates were lifted, and we could actually gather, I was like, ‘No, we need to do this as a community, we need to come together.'”

The accompanying video is also a tribute to Drennan’s home community: It opens with a shot of him walking across the ice road that connects Inuvik and Aklavik, and features shots of the inside of East Three Secondary School and a crowd of local students.

At the climax of the video, “When the community joined me on the walk down the road, it was the opportunity to symbolize that, here we are, having come out of this horrific experience,” says Drennan. “And here we are back together again. And it was a reason to celebrate.”

Drennan, who is also a teacher, won this year’s Fan’s Choice award at the NWT Music Awards. “Unknown Road” is part of a planned new EP that should be released sometime next spring. A new Christmas song, “Light of the Season,” will also be released on Dec. 17.

“Unknown Road” and its accompanying music video are now available to stream on YouTube. The single is also available to stream on Apple and Spotify.

Grade 9 teacher in Inuvik is Sport North's Coach of the Year

Grade 9 teacher in Inuvik is Sport North's Coach of the Year

'When you hear from teenagers that they appreciate you ... it kind of makes it all worth it'

A young basketball team with two coaches on either side pose for a photo.
The East Three Secondary School boys' basketball team from Inuvik, N.W.T. Stephanie Parkes, on far left, says she's coached this group of boys for about six years. (Submitted by Stephanie Parkes)

Stephanie Parkes didn't previously play basketball.

But recently, she was named coach of the year by Sport North, in honour of her efforts coaching the boys' basketball team at a school in Inuvik, N.W.T.

"I was shocked," she said. "Honoured. It's nice to have the recognition."

Sport North aims to develop and promote amateur sport in the Northwest Territories. It's responsible for providing programs and services for organized sport throughout the territory.

Parkes teaches Grade 9 math and is the boys' basketball coach at East Three Secondary School.

She said her journey into coaching began around 2008 when a friend needed her help chaperoning. It was a chance for her to hang out with the kids outside of the classroom setting — and she loved the experience..

"I see the kids a lot in the building. But it was really nice to get out of the school, make connections with the kids. Some of the students that maybe struggle academically — you really get to see a different side of them," Parkes said.

"You get to see them shine. I just fell in love with it."

A women crouches down to speak with boys sitting on chairs wearing basketball gear.
Parkes seen from behind, speaking with the boys basketball team she coaches in Inuvik. She says it's more than just coaching — Parkes offers guidance, leadership and a safe place for the kids. (Submitted by Stephanie Parkes)

For the last six or seven years, she's stuck with the same group of kids, who are now in Grade 12.

"It's been a journey for sure," she said. "A lot goes into coaching."

That includes five days a week in the gym, a lot of effort fundraising and travelling with the kids to Yellowknife.

"There's a lot to juggle," Parkes said. "It's time away from your own family. And my family has always been super supportive of me working outside of the house and chaperoning."

The time commitment, she said, pays off.

"We've had a pretty consistent team through the years. The kids are super dedicated," Parkes said.

"When you hear from teenagers that they appreciate you, and the things that you've done for their life, it kind of makes it all worth it."

'The long game'

The big reason she sticks with it, on top of her passion the kids, is to help promote staying in school.

"For some of our students, it's a reason for them to be in school, it helps to motivate them," she said of sport. "The ultimate goal here is graduation, right? So whatever we can do to help keep kids engaged in school, wanting to be there... we'll do what it takes."

While Parkes said she's seen the kids "through all the ups and the downs," she said she's confident "they're gonna get there."

A row of boys on a basketball team pose with a coach on either side. Many of the boys are holding up the number 6 with their fingers.
Parkes, left, poses with the boys basket ball team she coaches at the East Three Secondary School. (Submitted by Stephanie Parkes)

"It's always been about the long game," Parkes said. "Sport for me has always been about a way to motivate kids, you know, to show up and to do the best that they can do so that they can have these opportunities."

What was perhaps most touching about winning the award, to Parkes, was getting to read the written submissions sent in by the athletes she coaches.

"They were pretty special, pretty emotional," she said. "[I'm] very grateful."

Inuvik Drum Youth of the Week: Noah Cormier

Our Youth of the Week is Noah Cormier, seen here with RKV Bladesmith Rory Voudrach. Noah has been participating in an on-the-land school program with his father, learning traditional survival methods. After watching others working with an ulu, Noah decided he wanted one himself and has been operating a lemonade stand and collecting bottles for the past several months to save up. He finally got his blade at the Christmas Craft Fair Nov. 25 to 27. Photo courtesy of Kimberlly Walters

Beaufort Delta Schools kill bullying with kindness

When it comes to standing up to bullying, Beaufort Delta District Education Council takes an all-hands-on-deck approach.

Superintendent Devin Roberts listed 11 different programs active across the district, both in nurturing safe environments and addressing bullying when it happens. Among the programs he cited were the school district’s Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) and the “Walk Away, Ignore, Talk it Out and Seek Help” (WITS) programs.

“GSAs provide a safe, supportive environment for students of diverse genders and sexualities to meet, discuss sexual orientation and gender identity issues, and form a community. GSAs also welcome straight, cisgender ally youth,” he said. “The WITS Programs bring together schools, families and communities to create responsive environments that help elementary school children deal with conflict and peer victimization, such as discrimination and bullying.

“(A third program,) LEADS challenges students to become leaders in their community. It encourages understanding of different perspectives by using five problem-solving strategies: Look and Listen, Explore Points of View, Act, Did it Work? and Seek Help.”

Getting feedback from student councils and assemblies, Roberts said all BDDEC schools have a Safe and Caring School Committee, designed to ensure schools have healthy programming and were positive spaces for everyone inside them. BDDEC also commits to safe school plans that report, document and respond to incidents of bullying. Individual schools identify specific issues to target strategies, though Roberts noted preventing bullying is a community-wide effort.

Consequentially, the school district uses its programming to target the entire learning community to promote healthy relationships, as well as teach students proactive incident reporting skills and safe intervention tactics, as well as conflict resolution.

As part of the effort to promote a safe and healthy culture, two schools are going the extra distance in the lead-up to Pink Shirt Day, which is Feb. 22. Moose Kerr School in Aklavik will have an Acts of Kindness and wisdom week staying Feb. 27 to promote kindness among students. Meanwhile, an Random Act of Kindness month is already underway at East Three Secondary school.

Programming is administered with a holistic approach in mind. Roberts noted three healthy relationship programs were directly oriented towards stopping bullying before it starts, including the Fourth R Program, which uses a thematic approach to reduce aggressive behaviours in youth and substance abuse. A second program, the WiseGuyz program, targets teenagers and helps guide them through the chaotic world of dating.

“Importantly, many of these adolescent risk behaviours overlap because they occur in the context of relationships,” said Roberts. “The Fourth R program addresses these adolescent risk behaviours by focusing on relationship goals and challenges that influence their decision-making.

“WiseGuyz is a healthy relationship, life skills program for male-identified individuals in grade nine. WiseGuyz is an evidence-informed participatory program designed to promote healthy relationships and prevent adolescent dating violence. The program provides a safe space for participants to reflect on the impacts of harmful gender stereotypes and build essential relationship skills.”

A Healthy Relationship Plus program is also in effect, which follows principles of skill building and awareness. It aims to prevent violence by promoting healthy relationships.

Roberts added that, in addition to the school board’s anti-bullying and healthy lifestyle programming, in the event a situation spiralled out of control there is an Emergency Response Plan as an absolute last resort.

2021-2022 Year

Students of Beaufort Delta blow past expectations in Canadian Achievement tests

Students of Beaufort Delta blow past expectations in Canadian Achievement tests
Education district sees spike of 40 to 50 per cent in students reaching or passing national average
by Eric Bowling
July 15, 2021


Students in the Beaufort Delta are blowing past expectations, with a record number of grade eight students scoring above the national average on Canadian Achievement tests. Progress in academics is being seen across the district, which Beaufort Delta District Education Council is attributing to a district-wide effort to improve literacy and numeracy. Eric Bowling/NNSL photo

Beaufort Delta students in Grades 4 to 9 had significantly higher scores on the annual Canadian Achievement Tests (CAT 4s) this year.

Since 2013 students across the Beaufort Delta have participated in the independently graded tests, but Beaufort Delta District Education Council superintendent Devin Roberts said this year the students made a breakthrough, smashing several records in their wake.

“For the last three years in particular, we created a BDDEC strategic plan,” he said. “We wanted to focus on the growth of the students. So we’re looking at individual kids and how they’re progressing on their reading, writing or mathematics.

“Our kids should be performing at a national standard. This is a way to measure it. The kids write the CAT tests here in the Beaufort Delta, but we send the tests out to the testing centre to be marked. So it’s a third-party showing us how our kids are doing in relation to the rest of the country.”

Leading the pack were the Grade 8 students, who scored 87 per cent in reading, 84 per cent in vocabulary, 82 per cent in spelling and 81 per cent in mathematics — matching or exceeding the national average. In grade nine, 77 per cent of the students across the Beaufort Delta scored at least the national average in spelling and in Grade five, 78 per cent met or overcame the average in spelling, and 82 per cent in reading.

Aside from a great way to cap off an otherwise trying year of Covid-19 precautions, Roberts added the strong academic showing bodes well for the students going forward, as they establish a strong foundation for the next level of education.

Students not just blew past expectations on the CAT 4s, they also are approaching national averages in Stanine 4 ratings. Stanine is a score from 1 to 9, with 4 being the average. In grade four, 66 per cent of students are approaching the national average in vocabulary, 69 per cent in spelling and 72 per cent in mathematics. Fifth graders are now 76 per cent approaching the national average in their writing conventions, 70 per cent approaching the norm in vocabulary and 70 per cent in mathematics. In grade six, 67 per cent are approaching the national average in reading, 69 per cent in spelling and 59 per cent in math.

Grade 7 students in the Delta are now 70 per cent approaching the national average in computation, estimation and spelling. They are now 68 per cent in math. Eighth graders scored 68 per cent in writing conventions and 70 per cent in computation and estimation against the average and grade nine students scored 65 per cent in reading, 62 per cent in computation and estimation and 63 per cent in mathematics.

Roberts said BDDEC was still crunching a lot of the numbers, but so far the improvement amounts to a 40 to 50 per cent jump in students reaching the national average for numeracy and literacy.

Children are scored on the material they learned the previous year, so these numbers demonstrate what they were able to retain over the summer break. Teachers too have been working on their knowledge base to help better educate their students.

“If I do all the talking, I do most of the learning,” said Roberts. “We do a lot of work around memory retention with our staff. It’s a gradual release of responsibility. The idea is your shifting the focus from the teacher giving the instruction, but then supporting the instruction where the kids are active in their learning.

“We want to build kids up to independence,” he said. “It’s also important to ask the right types of questions, so instead of just giving a kid an answer we worked with staff with how you prompt a student to think independently.”

Roberts attributed the improvements to a district wide effort, which included school improvement plans, classroom teachers shifting their practice to better reflect research-based best practices and focusing on data driven instruction. A long term literacy plan was implemented, allowing students to access coaching to improve their literacy and numeracy. Additional support from Jordan’s Principle to bring in instructional coaches helped improve outcomes for Indigenous students and particularly efforts to Indigenize education and orient lesson topics towards subjects culturally relevant to students helped students blow past expectations.

“We’re seeing success across the district, not just one or two schools. No one person or one initiative has supported our students’ success in isolation,” said Roberts. “This is truly a system wide success and shall be celebrated as such.

“We know we have lots of work to do in education, but we’re really excited about where things are heading right now.”

Next, said Roberts, is building on the students success. He said he was in talks with the various District Education Councils, as well as the Gwich’in Tribal Council and Inuvialuit Regional Corporation to establish a five-year plan to keep the momentum going. Historically, BDDEC established its targets year-to-year, but Roberts said having a plan in place for students coming in at first grade to carry them through their education was the key to sustained success.

He said this year could represent a “spike” in scores, so the focus would be on how to sustain the momentum next year.

Regardless, having taken their game to the next level, he said the students weren’t looking back.

“Usually in data, when you see an initial spike, you may never get that initial spike again,” said Roberts. “But the important thing is now that we’ve spiked, we’ve set a standard we want to maintain.

“From here on in, in this district, we will always be measuring ourselves against the national average. We’re not longer trying to chase it.”


'Incredibly resilient' Beaufort Delta students score well on Canadian assessment

The Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council in the Northwest Territories is celebrating historically high results in a test designed to gauge students' skills in literacy and math.

Devin Roberts, superintendent of education for the council, said COVID-19 has made the school year challenging, but the "Canadian Achievement Test (CAT) results are absolutely proof that a lot of great learning occurred, despite any challenges."

Students from grades 4-9 have been taking the tests — run by the Canadian Test Centre — since 2013.

"Throughout our history with CATs we've seen pockets of success, students doing well individually," said Roberts. "But this is the first year that we've seen... a lot of success with the CATs."

All grades approached the national average, he said, and Grade 8 students in particular exceeded the national average in reading, vocabulary, spelling and math.

Grade 5 students met the national average for reading at 82 per cent and spelling at 78 per cent, while Grade 9 students met the national average in spelling at 77 per cent.

Roberts said students should take pride in the results.

"It's their hard work, their achievement. It shows that they are incredibly resilient. We've known for a long time that the students of the Beaufort Delta are capable of anything and this is just one example."

Roberts credits teachers for working hard to support students. He also said the Northern Distance Learning program — which allows students in remote communities to take more academic courses from home — helps young people chase their dreams.

"It's absolutely positive and absolutely possible," he said.

Roberts said there will be a celebration at all the schools in the fall to mark students' achievements.

For trips to school without sunlight, Inuvik now has buses

For trips to school without sunlight, Inuvik now has buses
Published: November 20, 2021 at 9:07amSARAH SIBLEY

The Nihtat Gwich'in Council has purchased two buses to get students to and from school in Inuvik. Photo: Submitted
Students in Inuvik now have access to regular school bus services after the Nihtat Gwich’in Council purchased two buses and trained people to drive them.

Bus service will begin on Monday. Announcing the project’s completion on Facebook, the council said the “benefits to our youth are incalculable.”

Kelly McLeod, president of the Nihtat Gwich’in Council, said by email the service relies on funding from Jordan’s Principle and the Inuit Child First Initiative Fund.


“There hasn’t been a bus service in the community of Inuvik, and we are extremely happy to be providing this service,” McLeod said.

“Our goal is to be able to provide our children with the opportunity to achieve their education goals by ensuring that they arrive to school on time, while providing a safe, reliable, and sustainable service in the future.”

The group posted the bus route to Facebook on Thursday. Students must wear masks on the bus. Hand sanitizer will be available. Only children from the same household may share seats.

Jennifer Costa, a parent and member of Inuvik’s district education authority, said the buses will be a big help during winter months without sunlight.

“Students who are walking to school in the mornings, it can be a bit dangerous and a little scary walking in the dark and in the cold,” Costa said.


“Those are two really strong barriers to kids making it to school in the morning and on time. And again in the evenings, when it’s about 3:30pm, it’s dark already.”

She added wildlife, though not common, can be a concern.

“For a young child to be walking on his or her own, that can be quite scary,” she said.

Costa, who has lived in the community for eight years, says there has never been a school bus service in that time but it was “very strongly desired” by residents.


Her five-year-old child is “so excited” to ride a bus to school.

“I have a feeling the novelty is going to be really big for a lot of the students and they will be very excited to hop onto a school bus,” she said.

“I think it’s warm and inviting, especially since there are two drivers from the area that are going to be driving, so they’ll know the kids.

“Great things happen when the community comes together and works together to serve the youth in our community.”


Nihtat Gwich’in school bus hits the road in Inuvik

With temperatures plunging and the nights growing ever long, children of Inuvik have a new way to get to school every day after a project several years in the making comes to fruition Nov. 22.

Nihtat Gwich’in Council announced a new school bus service Nov. 18 on their Facebook page. The buses made their maiden voyage at 7:50 a.m.

“There hasn’t been a bus service in the community of Inuvik and we are extremely happy to be providing this service,” said NGC President Kelly McLeod. “Our goal is to be able to provide our children with the opportunity to achieve their educational goals by ensuring that they arrive to school on time, while providing a safe, reliable and sustainable service in the future.

“Nihtat Gwich’in Council is extremely happy to be providing this for the children of Inuvik.”

Spearheaded by the previous administration and completed by the current one, the two buses and trained operators are funded through Jordan’s Principle and the Inuit Child First Initiative Fund. Each bus will cover one-half of the community, with one setting off from Ingamo Hall and the other from Tununuk Place, both at 7: 55 a.m.

Drivers are advised to be aware it is the law to stop driving behind or adjacent to a school bus that has stopped, as children may be moving around the vehicle.

Covid-19 protocols for the bus service are in full place. Students are required to wear masks and children are only permitted to sit together if from the same household. Hand sanitizer is available, but parents are asked to monitor children for symptoms and keep any children who appear sick at home.

The schedule for the new Inuvik Bus Service, operated by Nihtat Gwich’in Council and funded through Jordan’s Principle and the Inuit Child First Initiative Fund. Courtesy of Nihtat Gwich’in Council


One of two new school buses in operation in Inuvik waits for passengers in front of Boot Lake apartments Nov. 22. The buses are funded through Jordan’s Principle and the Inuit Child First Initiative Fund. Eric Bowling/NNSL photo


One of two new school buses in operation in Inuvik waits for passengers in front of Boot Lake apartments Nov. 22. The buses are funded through Jordan’s Principle and the Inuit Child First Initiative Fund. Eric Bowling/NNSL photo

Abe Drennan and the Outdoor Classroom

For this True North Tale I sat down again with Abe Drennan but this time we’re not chatting about his music career. We’re talking about the outdoor classroom he got to take his grade seven class to up in Inuvik. And to start off our chat Abe explains what the outdoor classroom is.

“Every year the on the land coordinator creates a excursion down where we call Boot Lake which is just an area maybe a 15 minute walk from the school. Kids from elementary to high school go down over a period of a month or a month or two and have experiences out on the land. And so with the grade seven students this year, they’re the ones that set up the camp. They set up the tent, they set up the area for the other classes to eventually attend. And so they create sort of this classroom environment down along the river. And so yeah, it consists of a nice fire pit and a large tent frame and just quite an area there to explore and to learn and in some cases actually do their schoolwork out there.”
During my chat with Abe, he said one of the main focuses of the outdoor classroom was to bring the students outside that teach them science math, along with other subjects.

“Like building a fire and creating a shelter. And so the kids got a chance to sort of practice those things. First of all, be demonstrated of course, how to do those things, and then practice and then on the last day, there was a survival challenge and they had to actually in an hour and a half build a shelter. And a fire hot enough to boil water and they were given like a limited number of supplies. So we had like this, this table that had a variety of different survival resources, matches, flint, tarp, extra wood and so the groups had to choose like two supplies out of the table that they were able to take with them on a challenge.”
And it was during one of these survival challenges where a group of students really impressed Abe.

“We never showed the kids how to use a flint and steel and we told them in the beginning that if they got their fire going with the flint that they would get an extra two bonus points, you know, in the challenge, and so one group chose a flint and they took the greatest risk and they ended up winning the challenge. They got their fire going with the flint it was a ton of work and their shelter. They didn’t use a tarp either, so they had to build a shelter out of you know, all natural materials. And so that was really interesting and fun to watch them you know, progress and actually win.”
To finish off my True North Tale with Abe Drennan he tells me how the whole outdoor classroom experience was inspirational and a great jumping-off point.

“This experience is sort of a really good jumping off point for us as a grade seven teacher team right to start to integrate these on the land experiences into the classroom and of course, the cultural traditions language in these pieces of the Inuvialuit and Gwich’in cultures that we can start to you know, as I said, integrate and what was so inspiring about this experience was that we also took the curriculum and we brought it outside and we we integrated it within that environment. And so I think it’s just it was a really good model. And I really think that we can just use that to sort of grow and understand on a deeper way sorta how to integrate these experiences in the classroom and make it better for the students and for the teachers too I think.” – Abe Drennan, Northern Teacher and Artist

Beaufort Delta school board employees volunteer to help out families in isolation

Schools may have been closed over the last month as the Beaufort Delta locked down in the face of Covid-19, but staff were keeping busy the entire time helping out with relief efforts during the lockdown.

Among the efforts of the staff of Beaufort Delta District Education Council, East Three School and Mangilaluk School were delivering groceries to families in isolation, operating the isolation station at Mangilaluk School and volunteering over the mass screening of students that took place between Nov. 18 and Nov. 22.

BDDEC Supt. Devin Roberts expressed his thanks to staff for their work over the outbreak in a press release Nov. 23.

“We want to take a moment to express how proud we are to be part of such resilient and caring communities,” he said. “Our youth have been shown an amazing model of compassion and involvement. With the recent closures of schools in Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk several community organizations worked together strongly and quickly, to ensure our communities were well looked after.

“A huge mahsi, quyanainni, quana to all BDDEC staff that supported the many initiatives this week in response to COVID-19 in the region.”

East Three School was ordered closed by the chief public health officer Nov. 7 after 11 people at the school tested positive for Covid-19 and BDDEC decided to close Mangilaluk the same day. BDDEC staff were compiling names and addresses of families forced into isolation by Nov. 8 to prepare care packages for them. When a hamlet-wide Public Health Order was put in place for Tuktoyaktuk Nov. 11, staff were already busy with gathering groceries, medications and other essential goods.

Groceries were purchased by BDDEC with funds donated by the Inuvik Food Bank. Additional support was provided by the Gwich’in Tribal Council and Inuvialuit Regional Corporation with deliveries and organizing.

On Nov. 13, BDDEC put out a call for volunteers to operate the Mangilaluk isolation centre in Tuktoyaktuk. By the afternoon, 12 volunteers had come forward. Staff worked to comfort people in Tuktoyaktuk recovering from a Covid-19 exposure.

“A big thank you to the Inuvik Food Bank for their generous contributions,” said Roberts. “A big mahsi cho to Gwich’in Tribal Council (GTC) who supported this initiative and for their continued support of our communities. A big quyanainni to the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) for their continued support of our communities.

“Whether it be working together for our youth and programs offered in our schools, or in their homes and communities, these organizations can always be counted on for support. We want to thank the administrative teams and support staff of our schools who have put in extra hours communicating with families and staff to ensure our students’ needs are addressed.

“Lastly, we want to thank all the families in our communities for their continued support and trust as we work together towards efforts that keep our children healthy, safe, and well cared for. “

Roberts added that in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, East Three Elementary School had implemented a voluntary at-home screening pilot project. Anyone interested in participating can contact the BDDEC office by emailing droberts@bdec.nt.ca or kristac@bdec.nt.ca to sign up.

“We encourage students and families to use the COVID 19 screening tool every day,” he said. “Signage promoting social distancing is up in all schools.

“We will continue to use enhanced cleaning lists for custodial services in schools. Students and staff will continue to wear masks and practice proper hygiene.”

33 new Inuvialuit murals to be displayed in 6 N.W.T. communities

Aklavik artists reflect unity between Inuvialuit and Gwichʼin in new murals

Lead artist Jodi Arey stands with the finished mural Aklavik High School students completed as part of the Inuvialuit Mural Project. (Submityed: Heather Evans)

Six N.W.T. communities are about to get more colourful.

Thirty-three murals have been commissioned by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) as part of the Inuvialuit Mural Project. It aims to reinforce community pride and establish greater connections between Inuvialuit of all ages, said Brian Wade, director of Inuvialuit Community Economic Development Organization.

Wade said the project's other aim is to prepare for the return of tourism to the region in the future by having highly visible expressions of Inuvialuit culture to display, while supporting local artists.

The IRC provided materials and supplies to six communities: Aklavik, Inuvik, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Tuktoyaktuk and Ulukhaktok. The organization reached out to Inuvialuit and not-for-profit groups to participate in the creation of a local art project, said Wade.

He added that the artists and mentors were paid for their work and that the murals will be displayed in their home communities. He also said high resolution photos will be taken so the paintings can be replicated to be displayed on Main Street in Inuvik.

'What makes Aklavik Aklavik'

Aklavik artists are among the first to complete their murals.

Courtney Charlie, of Aklavik, is one of these artists.

She said she put her name forward for the project because she loves to paint and liked the idea of representing the Aklavik she knows for everyone to see.

Courtney Charlie's painting depicts a figure in a traditional drum dance parka with a drum. A mountain and sun are behind them, surrounded by animal imagery. (Submitted/Inuvialuit Regional Corporation)

"I thought a lot about what makes Aklavik Aklavik," said Charlie.

Resiliency of her community was a theme offered by organizers to inspire murals, she said.

She said she wanted to depict, "the strength we have as a community as a whole and that culture is slowly coming back after residential schools."

Her painting depicts a figure in a traditional parka with a drum, and a mountain and sun behind them, surrounded by animal imagery.

Creating the painting had Charlie thinking about places she goes with her family, like the Richardson Mountains. She also thought about traditional activities she does, like picking berries, that connect her to her culture, she said.

'Never say die'

Many students at Aklavik High School collaborated on another mural.

Heather Evans, a teacher at the school, said there is no art studio at the small school, so the back half of her classroom was transformed into an art studio for three weeks while the mural was being painted.

High school student Jodi Arey was the lead artist on the mural created by Aklavik HIgh School students. Fellow students Colton Archie, Sarah Meyook, Deadra Greenland, Starr Elanik and teachers Heather Evans and Amanda Reynolds also worked on the project. (Submitted/Heather Evans)

Jodi Arey was the lead artist. Colton Archie, Sarah Meyook, Deadra Greenland, Starr Elanik and teachers Heather Evans and Amanda Reynolds also worked on the project.

"You really see a different side of your students when you give them hands on activities," said Evans. "The vision started with Jodie, but then morphed into a representation of everyone together."

The project really connects the community and creates a sense of belonging, which is something Arey has also spoken about, said Evans.

The mural depicts a caribou and seasonally changing backgrounds with activities people would do in the community in each season, said Evans.

The painting has the Aklavik motto, "Never say die", written in Inuvialuit and Gwichʼin, because it was important to the students to reflect both cultures represented in Aklavik and the school, said Evans.

'It was therapeutic'

Miranda Kowana also wanted to reflect both cultures in her work, but she did it primarily through animal imagery.

The owl in her painting represents Inuvialuit and the caribou represents Gwichʼin, she said.

Reflecting togetherness was important to her in the work.

Kowana also wanted to reflect the importance of trapping in her mural, including related symbols and several of the animals found in the area. She is now considering doing a second painting in the future on related themes.

Miranda Kowana primarily used animal imagery for her mural and said making it was therapeutic. (Submitted/Inuvialuit Regional Corporation)

Usually Kowana is more of a drawer, although this is her second painted mural for her community. She recommends others "just do it" if given an opportunity like this in the future.

"It was therapeutic," said Kowana of painting the piece.

She lives in Aklavik, but initially applied while in isolation in Inuvik. When she returned home and was accepted to the project, she painted when she could carve out some time between working and caring for her young son.

She said conversations with her friend Erica Omilgoituk helped inspire the design.

Reflecting a new home

For Megan Lennie, making her painting was about reflecting her newer home.

Lennie is from Inuvik, but moved to Aklavik in adulthood after attending art school at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

This is her largest piece to date, she said. It incorporates the Aklavik braid.

Uniting the two Indigenous groups, Inuvialuit and Gwichʼin, in the painting by having the braid and silhouettes of people surround both logos was important to her design, she said.

Megan Lennie wanted to reflect unity in her mural. (Submitted/Megan Lennie)

Other artists across the Inuvialuit region continue to work on their murals. The IRC is excited about the long term effects the project will have on promoting Inuvialuit culture, supporting local artists and drawing visitors to the region, said Wade.

Beaufort Delta schools moving to online learning

Schools in the Beaufort Delta will remain closed for at least another week and students will be moving to online learning as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread through the region. Eric Bowling/NNSL photo


Students in the Beaufort Delta are shifting to online learning and schools will remain closed for another week as the Covid-19 outbreak affecting at least five communities in the area shows little signs of tapering off.

A letter to parents in Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk from Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council superintendent Devin Roberts was sent out Jan. 7. Roberts told Inuvik Drum all schools will now remain closed until Jan. 17, excluding Moose Kerr School in Aklavik which will remain closed until Jan. 24.

“The Covid-19 situation in the Northwest Territories continues to evolve and we are seeing rapidly rising case numbers,” said Roberts. “As of Jan. 6, the NWT had the highest number of infections recorded in a 24-hour period ever in the NWT and there are infections in every region.

“I want to emphasize that every school in the NWT has safety guidelines in place that were approved by the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer and that these measures are in place to limit the introduction and transmission of Covid-19.”

Students will shift to remote learning for the time being. Packages will be made available online on Jan. 10. Teachers will be reaching out to parents and students over the next week to assist in the transition to an online platform.

A notice on East Three Secondary School’s Facebook page notes any new material presented online will be considered supplementary and not have the potential to negatively influence student grades, but is also essential for future lessons. Any assignments issued before the new year are still due and subject to grading. Grade 12 diploma exams have been cancelled territory-wide.

Families unable to access materials online are asked to reach out to the school or a teacher to make arrangements for learning materials.

Covid-19 screening kits for students are available by reaching out to the local school. The kits are to be used within 24 hours of a student returning to school.

In addition, the school district has is directing students to an online metal health program for youth aged 13 to 24 called BreathingRoom, which provides techniques and lessons in learning to cope with stress, depression and anxiety.

N.W.T. students carve soapstone loons with help from Fort McPherson artist

Waylon Snowshoe hopes lessons of patience and perseverance pay off

Waylon Snowshoe operates a band saw during a soapstone carving workshop he put on for high school students in the N.W.T. (Submitted by Waylon Snowshoe)

An artist from Fort McPherson, N.W.T. says carving soapstone sculptures helped him deal with anxiety — and now he's passing along what he's learned to young people.

Waylon Snowshoe, who lives in Yukon now, was in Fort McPherson and Aklavik this past month leading carving workshops for high school students.

"I think a lot of kids fell in love with their art," Snowshoe told the host of CBC's Northwind, Wanda McLeod. "That's kind of my vision, to show kids they can achieve something."

Snowshoe chose to have the young artists carve sculptures of loons.

Taylor Jerome-Alexie, from Fort McPherson, works on a soapstone carving of a loon. (Submitted by Waylon Snowshoe)

"I think it's such a peaceful animal. And you learn about the noises [they make] and the Indigenous tales of the loons and how they got their colours."

At the start of the workshops, Snowshoe said some students doubted their abilities to turn the stone into an animal  — but that's where words of encouragement came in.

Snowshoe said young people learned to be patient, to take small steps toward their goals, and to take breaks when they became frustrated. He hopes those skills will help them overcome adversity as they continue to grow.

The origin story

Snowshoe said he started carving about eight years ago, after a move south. At the time, he said, he was lonely and learning the craft helped him stay busy and focused.

"I kind of fell in love with it," said Showshoe, adding he made a commitment to himself early on that some day, he'd carve stone full time. He reached that goal about two years ago.

Snowshoe speaks to a classroom full of highschool students in Aklavik, N.W.T. (Submitted by Waylon Snowshoe)

"It made me feel good inside, achieving something, challenging the stone."

Leading workshops and sharing those skills with young people is also a source of joy for Snowshoe.

"Seeing those kids so happy can really, it makes me happy too."

A glass case containing some of the finished sculptures that students made. (Submitted by Waylon Snowshoe)

Written by Liny Lamberink, based on an interview by Wanda McLeod

'This is a historic Pride': Inuvik hosts regional-based Pride event with Amazing Race winners Social Sharing

15 youth from across the Beaufort Delta communities flew in for the celebrations

The Inuvik Regional Hospital float in the Pride parade on Friday. (Karli Zschogner/CBC)

Sirens, bright colours and cheers calling for gender and sexuality inclusivity were the markers of Inuvik, N.W.T.,'s third Pride parade on Friday evening.

It was the first time the community had a regional-based Pride event with 15 youth from across the Beaufort Delta communities flown in for the celebrations.

There were over 160 people in the march, which went from Ingamo Hall to East Three Secondary School. There were also special guests at the event — The Amazing Race Canada winners Anthony Johnson and Dr. James Makokis.

The two-spirit couple flew up from Edmonton with the support of the Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council to spend time with youth in all-day gender and sexuality discussions focused on being your true self.

Makokis is from the Saddle Lake Cree Nation in Alberta, and Johnson is from Arizona's Navajo Nation.

"It's pretty incredible that this is a historic Pride," said Makokis.

"Hearing how excited they were, and being like 'I didn't know how many people there are like us here,' I think it instills a sense of safety and pride in the community which is so important … in reaching their fullest potential of who they are."

The 2022 Inuvik Pride Parade with The Amazing Race Canada winners Dr. James Makokis and Anthony Johnson. (Karli Zschogner/CBC)

Johnson said marching the parade route was emotional for him.

"It was the youth that asked us to come up to share tips of how to build allyship and this message to their community because it's hard for them," Johnson said.

"There's still discrimination, there's still homophobia, transphobia, and it's when a community comes together like this that people really see each other ... and that's such a strong message for young people of inclusivity and diversity and love."

Indigenous queer 'need more representation'

Fifteen-year-old Marshal Jellema was one of many exhilarated from the evening parade's turnout and the day's events.

Marshal Jellema, left, Brooke Dalton, centre and Ella Tingmiak of Inuvik, N.W.T., were very excited to welcome 15 other kids from across the Beaufort Delta region. (Karli Zschogner/CBC)

Jellema MCed the speaker series at the event, including during the parade stop at the school. Speakers included Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler and Mayor Clarence Wood.

"It was so amazing. Indigenous queer people really need more representation," Jellema said, adding many people he knows face challenges coming out to their families.

"So they can't really be themselves," said Jellema. "However, if you ever need to come out, come to me."

Inuvik teacher Jacqui Currie was one of the organizers of the Pride parade and events for students.

From left to right: Jacqui Currie, Ella Tingmiak, Marshal Jellema and Jill Nugent are Aurora Gender and Sexuality leaders. (Karli Zschogner/CBC)

"We were quite blown away," she said. "To see them come in shy, and today to see them all so happy to be there. One of the students said today was 'the best day of my life.'"

As one of the organizers of the Inuvik Pride Parade and of the Inuvik school's Aurora Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA), she and colleague Jill Nugent have been advocating for more safe and inclusive spaces and events across the region.

She said with the help of the Inuvik Regional Hospital, they also had Yellowknife's Northern Mosaic Network come in and support with workshops.

"We've been really focusing on making sure that all of our schools in the school division have GSAs," she said.

"That was where we really wanted to bring them in so that they could meet one on one … and really start a support network."


'We want folks to feel proud'

Johnson said they hope people feel a sense of pride, "not just about being queer or gay, or bi or trans or anything and everything in between," but of being from the North.

"This is such a beautiful area of the world. There's so much culture and history here. And all too often the voices of the North are not heard and people feel left out," Johnson said.

"We're here to say we love it. We love the people and we want folks to feel proud of their youth, of themselves and the lands that they come from."

Keith Verbonac, left, with Lynelle Pedroso, one of the original Inuvik Pride Parade organizers, and Cheyenne Gully. (Karli Zschogner/CBC)

2020-2021 Year

2 N.W.T. schools to get thousands of dollars for books

The money comes courtesy of the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation

Students at Charles Tetcho School will be getting new books thanks to a grant provided by the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation. (Submitted by Donna Fradley)
Two schools in the Northwest Territories have been awarded thousands of dollars to buy new books.

Chief Julius School in Fort McPherson, and Charles Tetcho School in Sambaa K'e will receive $20,000 and $15,000, respectively, over a three-year period.

"It will have a huge impact on them," said Donna Fradley, Charles Tetcho School principal, regarding her students. "We are very, very excited."

The money comes courtesy of the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation.

Fradley said she applied for the grant because the school has "quite a lack of resources."

"They've been kind of reading the same books over and over," she said in phone interview Tuesday.

As part of the application, the students wrote letters explaining why they wanted some new things to read.

There's an emphasis on literacy for students at the school, and having books the kids are interested in will help with that, Fradley said.

The school used to be one room in size. It's now under construction to expand to three classrooms. Twenty-one students attend the school, which accommodates students from kindergarten to Grade 9.

"My long-term goal is to create a library in the school," Fradley said.

These are some of the books students at Chief Julius School will be taking home thanks to the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation. (Submitted by Pam Booth)

Chief Julius School in Fort McPherson has 144 students, and it accommodates students from kindergarten to Grade 12.

Pam Booth, vice-principal and literacy coach, said the school's current selection has some gaps, and there's need for some books to be replaced.

"We do have students that do struggle with reading," she said. "That's been a main focus over the last couple of years, to really help improve the literacy skills at our school."

Having books catered to the students' different reading levels that they're keen on reading "will make a big difference."

The foundation has already donated several books to both schools, they said.

'Little leader' campaigns for hockey rink in small northern town

Nine-year-old Zandar Koe put on a suit and made a presentation at the hamlet council meeting

Zandar Koe and friends are hoping the community will ensure they have a suitable outdoor rink for hockey this winter. (Submitted by William Koe)

When nine year-old Zandar Koe found out there might not be an ice rink in Fort McPherson, N.W.T., suitable for organized hockey this year, he decided to do something about it.

He started a petition and wrote a letter to the hamlet asking for help.

Zandar said he's been playing hockey since he was four, and was sad to find out the the Charlie "Geejam" Snowshoe Arena with an indoor ice rink is closed this season due to structural problems with the building.

There is a pond close to the hamlet that people use for skating, but it's not properly maintained.

"Hockey is my sport," Zandar said.

The Gwich'in boy said he loves "playing a hockey game and having fun with my friends." He doesn't want that to stop in Fort McPherson.

Zandar drafted a letter, got about three pages of signatures of support from both adults and kids, and attended a hamlet council meeting Wednesday.

Zandar Koe, right, makes his case before hamlet council with Zody Kay, left. (Submitted by Marion Koe)

The initiative was his own idea — his mother, Marion Koe, said she didn't even know about the letter until his school called her asking for permission for him to attend the council meeting that evening.

He presented his letter with fellow nine-year-old Zody Kay, and said he was "excited" when council and attendees clapped for him.

In Zandar's letter, he also mentioned that the ice rink is a big part of an annual New Year's Eve tradition in the community. A public skate is held after midnight until about 5 a.m. It's a popular tradition which youth look forward to every year.

He told council that "it was going to be boring" without the public skate.

Proud grandfather, and mayor

One person who was particularly impressed was the mayor of Fort McPherson, William Koe. William also happens to be Zandar's grandfather.

Zandar Koe with grandfather William Koe in Fort McPherson. (Submitted by William Koe)

"He had his little suit on, I was really proud of him. I thought he was Wayne Gretzky or something," said William. "He's going to be a little leader, I can tell."

William said that earlier that day, he had informed residents on community radio that there was going to be no ice arena this year.  He said he was hoping community members would show up to the meeting to figure out what to do about having an area for people to skate and play hockey.

He said there are too many problems in their current complex, which is about 36 years old. The hamlet is working to secure funding to get a new building built for the community.

In the meantime, recreational activities like floor hockey, soccer, volleyball, basketball and hockey will need an interim home.

William said there was a good turnout at the meeting and "from that letter, his statement and the reactions, we decided we have to find a place for them. A place that will keep them occupied for the winter."

He said it's going to be a community effort but they are planning on getting the pond ice rink cleaned and flooded with water to level it out so it's safe for people to skate on.

The outdoor hockey rink in Fort McPherson will be improved and maintained for the winter while the arena is closed down. (William Firth/CBC)

They also want to add some lights so that people can skate safely during the dark and add some benches to make it a proper outdoor rink.

Fort McPherson residents are regulars in hockey tournaments both in the Beaufort Delta region, and in the Yukon.

He said it's important for the hamlet to continue holding the Annual Trapper Blake tournament, and have a place for kids to practice hockey especially with the Arctic Winter Games just about four months away.

"You can imagine the importance of hockey in Fort McPherson, and all the young kids love playing hockey. They all have their equipment and [are] ready to go, but there'll be no arena," William said.

The mayor said he hopes to seeing parents and community members working together in the next couple of weeks to have the outdoor rink set up.

As for Zandar, he said he hopes people will help, so he and his friends "get to play more hockey everyday."

Fort McPherson boy presents letter to council with three pages of signatures

A young man in Fort McPherson got a taste of how government works as he presented a letter to hamlet council Nov. 6.

Zandar Koe, 9, was hoping to play hockey in the arena during New Year’s, as per tradition. Normally, the arena is opened by December to let the kids play. However, the arena was closed over the summer as part of the construction of the new community hall.

“They closed it this summer, so I wanted to see if they would open it on New Year’s,” he said.

So he wrote the letter, requesting that council find a way to do just that. As news of the letter spread around town, peers and adults offered their support for his cause and signed the letter. By the time the letter reached the council, it had three pages’ worth of signatures.

Koe said he was nervous to appear before council but was glad he did it. Unfortunately, due to safety concerns, the arena can’t be opened until construction is finished, but Koe did manage to secure a promise to keep the outdoor pond in skate-able condition.

“They listened, but it’s shut down for the season,” he said. “But it was good to get my concerns out.

“But we’ll play hockey on the pond and they’ll maintain it. Thank you to the mayor and council for listening.”

The pond, called Intake Lake and located near the highway, is the historical go-to for spontaneous hockey games. With council planning to maintain it, the kids should have a spot to practise their craft all winter long.

Construction of a new community hall in Fort McPherson was initiated after the federal government earmarked money for a number of infrastructure projects in 2017. This last summer, the old community hall was demolished to make way for the new one. The complex, which will include the arena, is expected to open its doors in 2021.

Mayor William Koe said the hall needed to be shut down immediately after it was found melting permafrost was forcing concrete foundations up through the floor. He said council and a group of parents had worked together to make the ice pond-worthy.

“The ice has been cleaned and they’re playing hockey now,” he said. “We’re going to start helping with flooding the rink and having a place for them to change into their skates.

“The ice is really smooth. It might be nice to have a tournament or something on the open ice.”

Chief Paul Niditchie School fills Phys Ed void with Outdoor Education in Tsiigehtchic

Keeping youth active has been an ongoing challenge for educators in the era of Covid-19, with physical education largely forbidden among NWT schools to prevent the spread of the virus.

But in Tsiigehtchic, kids aren’t just getting active — they’re learning valuable outdoor skills and science while they’re at it.

Jazzlynn Tetlichi, grade 8, gets a fire smoking with the help of Mae Steiner, grade 7, during an Outdoor Physical Education class at Chief Paul Niditchie school in Tsiigehtchic. Unable to run a normal physical education curriculum due to Covid-19, educators have gotten creative in keeping youth active.
Photo courtesy Nick Kopot
“The school has been doing outdoor learning to essentially replace phys. Ed,” said Chief Paul Niditchie School principal Nick Kopot. “It has given us an opportunity to really connect science and the Dene Kede curriculum.”

Having just wrapped up their wood unit, students learned how to identify dry wood from greener wood, how to build a number of types of fires, collect kindling and to cut it.

On top of that, students also learned important scientific facts, including the chemistry of fire and combustion, the biodiversity of plants, how to tell the age of trees and how trees take up moisture from the environment.

The kids also got a good workout collecting and cutting firewood.

“They practiced cutting kindling and basically stocked up our school camp,” said Kopot. “All classes have been using it for outdoor learning.”

Next, the students will be learning about the formation and chemistry of ice from water, and how the speed the water flows at affects the rate of freezing.

Coupled with learning about the science of ice, the kids will also be learning how to ice fish.

Kopot said the school’s cultural education calendar was synchronized with the traditional Gwich’in seasonal calendar to ensure the education students receive is relevant to their culture. The school was engaging in similar outdoor education curriculum for everyone from Junior Kindergarten all the way to Ninth Grade.

Mae Steiner, grade 7, prepares a fire while Haileigh Cardinal, grade 8, breaks up some dried spruce boughs for kindling. Students from Junior Kindergarten all the way to Grade 9 are learning valuable outdoor skills and traditional knowledge for their physical education this year.
Photo courtesy Nick Kopot.
“Some teachers teach math concepts on the land, some use the experiences to drive English Language Arts assignments, some use the outdoors as the classroom for science or even social studies discussions,” he said. “We keep the Dene Kede and our local community culture, Gwichya Gwich’in, at the core of our focus. We also access local experts in many things. That’s a big part of it. We have local resource people out staking muskrat push-ups now for our muskrat unit in March.

“It is a holistic approach. It’s the most effective and honestly the most meaningful to the community. Parent engagement now is more important than ever. Keep them engaged and having faith that we’re doing right by their children.”

You can see further examples of the youth in action on Chief Paul Niditchie School’s Facebook page.

All Beaufort Delta Grade 7-12 students now using laptops for school, says BDDEC

From Helen Kalvak Elihakvik in Ulukhaktok to Chief Julius in Fort McPherson and every school in-between, students in Grades 7-12 are now equipped with laptops to help them with their studies, completing a project several years in the making.

Grade 8 students of East Three Secondary School work on a career planning session with new laptops after a project to equip every Grade 7-12 student with one was completed.
Photo courtesy Beaufort Delta District Education Council.
Beaufort Delta District Education Council assistant superintendent Devin Roberts said the school board had been eager to establish a digital connection for its students for some time, but the ongoing threat of Covid-19 and the possibility of a lockdown at any moment made the project a top priority.

“The idea predates Covid-19,” he said. “We were looking at the discrepancy in regards to access to education. With 21th century learning you need access to the internet and computers. Covid-19 just exasperated the problem for us, so we addressed.

“But recently as last spring we were trying to put all this together and get it in place.”

Initially, the project began with setting up Grade 10 students with laptops, with funding help from both the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and the Gwich’in Tribal Council. Both self-governments also kicked in funding to help BDDEC afford to set the remainder of high school students with laptops, and BDDEC covered the costs of supplying the junior high programs. In total, 684 laptops were purchased for the students.


East Three Secondary School teacher Mike Bodnar assists Grade 8 student Zoe Hanson with an assignment with a new laptop. Beaufort Delta District Education Council acquired for all Grade 7-12 students to use as part of their curriculum.
Photo courtesy Beaufort Delta District Education Council.
Students use the laptops when they arrive at school and leave them on campus, though they can book the laptops out to help with homework or other school projects.

Having an online learning infrastructure in place not only helps improve the students’ digital literacy, noted Roberts, but also doubles as a contingency in the event a Covid-19 outbreak hits the north and forces another shut down of schools. With the laptops, school could continue on from home.

Roberts said the school board was overjoyed getting the laptops set up and thanked both the GTC and IRC for their contribution to the project.

“It was nice to see that it’s on the ground now. It’s taken some time to get all this in place,” he said. “We’re really excited to see this happen. We have to do this as an education body, given the Covid-19 context. We wanted to do this anyways, but now with Covid-19 we really want to make sure this happens.

“We should be on pace with any other school district across the country and most school districts have access to these types of things.”

'Absolute elation': Beaufort Delta student wins prestigious scholarship

Kyran Alikamik and 28 other students named Loran Scholars Thursday

Kyran Alikamik is the first student in Inuvik to be named a Loran Scholar, and the fourth student in all of the N.W.T. to ever receive the award, according to the Loran Scholars Foundation. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

Kyran Alikamik just made history as the first student from the Beaufort Delta to be chosen for The Loran, one of Canada's most prestigious undergraduate scholarships.

The Inuvialuk student said being named as a Loran Scholar "was just absolute elation."

"It was a level of justified pride that I'm not used to feeling. It makes me even more sure of my capabilities in the future for ... what I can do."

The 18-year-old student from Ulukhaktok has come a long way since starting high school, when graduation felt like an "abstract" idea.

Alikamik was one of 29 scholars announced Thursday. The foundation said it received 6,084 applications this year, and carried out interviews with 72 finalists in what it calls "the most comprehensive and thorough scholarship selection process in Canada."

The scholarship is valued at about $100,000 per recipient, and includes both a $10,000 annual stipend for four years and one-on-one mentorship opportunities.

Alikamik is the fourth student from the N.W.T. to ever receive the scholarship, and the seventh in all of the territories, according the Loran Scholars Foundation. He is also the only scholar from the territories this year.

"Being a Loran award winner means it's a lifetime commitment to their principles and your own," said Alikamik, who heard about the program through Richard McKinnon, who was his principal in Ulukhaktok.

Alikamik now lives with McKinnon in Inuvik. He made the move there to focus on school and be closer to the teachers he is learning from.

The newly named Loran Scholar has already been accepted into the University of British Columbia, where he plans to pursue a Bachelor of Arts and eventually return North to become an English teacher.

"That's kind of been an underlying passion of mine: the English language [and] the pursuit of excellence in that field," he said. "I see myself coming back up North and teaching others and introducing a new cycle in the North — a cycle where the students here in the North realize there are so many paths available for them to take."

'Ready for the world'

Lisa Alikamik has been one of her son's biggest cheerleaders. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

One of Alikamik's biggest cheerleaders is his own mother, Lisa Alikamik.

She said it wasn't until she googled the Loran scholarship that she realized how impressive it was.

"I'm like 'Son, you're in the top 72!'" she exclaimed with pride, after he was named a finalist.

"He had a lot of support to help him get to where he is today. He's really headstrong and he's so ready for the world," she said.

Alikamik's mother said she wasn't surprised he became a finalist for the award because "he's always been a go-getter."

"I knew he was gonna go somewhere and always give his 110 per cent."

Hopes to inspire others

It wasn't until after he started the Northern Distance Learning program, which allows students in smaller communities to take classes needed for university, that Alikamik said he began to take school seriously.

Gene Jenks, a teacher at East Three Secondary School, helped launch the program about 11 years ago, and taught the young man this year.

"He is never satisfied with the current state of where he's at," said Jenks.

"He wants to always better himself. So that's a true student and a true learner," he said, calling him a teacher's dream.

Jenks said knowing that Alikamik's goal is to return to the North and be an educator makes him burst with pride.

Gene Jenks, who taught Kyran Alikamik this year, described the newly named Loran Scholar as "true student and a true learner." (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

"We've seen his growth as a student now and if he is to come back and serve the region as a teacher, we are all better for it," said Jenks. "He's excited by life. He's excited by learning. He's excited about having these deep discussions of his favourite philosophers [and] then he'll go off and talk about his latest run."

Alikamik said he's excited for the next four years of university and to be the best version of himself for others. He also hopes he can inspire other people in small Northern communities.

"When I think of students looking up to me it makes me very happy," he said. "That's one of the only chances that I want to get, is to have a student look at me as a positive role model and gain inspiration from what I've done."

Inuvik student Kyran Alikamik wins award valued at $100K

Grade 12 student Kyran Alikamik, originally from Ulukhaktok and now attending Inuvik’s East Three Secondary School, said winning the $100,000 Loran Award was “up there with some of the best moments of my life.”

The national scholarship package bills itself as the most comprehensive undergraduate award in Canada.

This year, 29 students across Canada have accepted offers to be this year’s Loran scholars. The organization says more than 6,000 people applied and that one additional offer is still pending. Alikamik was the only student selected from across the three territories.

“When they called me and they gave me the good news, it was kind of the culmination of every previous joy I had with being a leader. And I just felt completely proud of myself, and I let that pride take on my entire mood. It was amazing,” he told Cabin Radio.

Alikamik said the application process was “very intensive.” He described it as a lot of writing during the initial application process, followed by a video interview where he was asked about his leadership skills, character, and commitment to service in his community.

While academic results form part of the application, he said the process mostly scrutinized students’ leadership roles in their time in high school. Over the past few years, he’s taken on roles such as student council president, volunteered to run sports programs, and helped with his school’s community-run coffee shop.

After graduating this June, Alikamik is off to the University of British Columbia to begin his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees, with the eventual plan of returning to the Northwest Territories to teach.

The Loran Award is valued at approximately $100,000 over four years, including a $10,000 annual stipend plus a matching tuition waiver, mentorship, summer internship funding, and annual retreats and forums.

Up to 95 other finalist awards for provincial and territorial applicants – valued at $5,000 or $2,000 respectively – may also be handed out each year.

This is the third year in a row that an NWT student has been named a Loran scholar. Yellowknifers Emma Willoughby and Adithi Balaji won in 2019 and 2020.


61 bold and inquisitive Canadian students each win a Ted Rogers Innovation Award through Canada’s regional ‘virtual’ STEM fair network

Medicine Hat, May 10, 2021 – A total of 61 students across Canada have taken home a $100 cash award as well as receiving recognition and other prizing as part of the Ted Rogers Innovation Awards program, an initiative of Youth Science Canada, with support from Ted Rogers Community Grants.  The program concluded on April 29, at the Southeast Alberta fair, where Debasri Jena from Medicine Hat, Alberta, took home the final regional award of the 2021 ‘virtual’ season

“We’re extremely proud of these students, who come from all corners of our country and are united by a goal of making the world a better place for all,” said Reni Barlow, executive director of Youth Science Canada. “Thanks to partners like Rogers, we are able to engage more and more aspiring young innovators as they lead the path to a better tomorrow through STEM.”

Regional youth science fairs began more than sixty years ago and the Ted Rogers Innovation Award was added to programming in 2018 to recognize Canadian students who express an entrepreneurial spirit and demonstrate commercial potential for their project. The award is part of an ongoing national partnership between Youth Science Canada and Rogers that has included, to date, more than $150,000 spread across fairs and national projects that encourage STEM among Canadian youth of all backgrounds. Award winners are also eligible to receive enrolment tuition in the weeklong Youth Science Canada/York University STEM bootcamp, held annually in August through the Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science & Technology (BEST) program.

“Ted Rogers Community Grants, which enable organizations like Youth Science Canada to provide initiatives like their annual science fairs, are empowering the next generation of leaders and changemakers across the country,” said Sevaun Palvetzian, Chief Communications Officer and lead for corporate responsibility at Rogers. “We are incredibly proud of this year’s Ted Rogers Innovation Award recipients across Canada, who continue to demonstrate leadership and creativity in their STEM-related projects.”

The list of winners, per region, include:

Debasri Jena in grade 10 from Medicine Hat, AB at the Southeast Alberta fair: Dehydration Sensor

Kay Spencer in grade 7 from Lethbridge, AB at the Lethbridge fair: Pennies From Heaven

Tri Nguyen in grade 10 from Camrose, AB at the Central Alberta Rotary fair: Automated Car Network

Mya Cardinal in grade 10 from High Prairie, AB at the Peace Country fair: What’s In My Water? A Continuous Study of Water quality on a First Nations Reserve: Discovering and Utilizing Water Filtration Techniques

Shivalikaa Govind in grade 10 from Edmonton, AB at the Edmonton fair: Carbon Bomb

Joseph Kostousov in grade 9 from Calgary, AB at the Calgary Youth fair: Gardening Vertically While Saving The World

Omar Shanab in grade 7 from Fort McMurray, AB at the Wood Buffalo fair: I’m Satisfied With My Care

Tyson Neufeld in grade 8 from Dawson Creek, BC at the Northern British Columbia fair: Microbial Fuel Cell for Improved Contaminated Soil Cleanup and Bio-electricity Generation

Mac Dykeman in grade 10 from Langley, BC at the 4-H Canada fair: A Novel Approach to Biosecurity in Hatching

Alexis Kuo in grade 9 from Victoria, BC at the Vancouver Island fair: Exploring an Affordable and Sustainable Approach to Enhance the Effectiveness of Non-Medical Masks

Albert Guo in grade 9 from Surrey, BC at the South Fraser fair: Sleepy? Using a Neural Net to Catch Drowsy Drivers

Aislinn Dressler in grade 12 from Fernie, BC at the East Kootenay fair: Viral Ultraviolet C Furnace Filter

Daniel Kornylo in grade 12 from Gold River, BC at the Northern Vancouver Island fair: EnviroHerp – Challenging Traditional Vivariums

Adam Patton in grade 12 from Kamloops, BC at the Cariboo Mainline fair: The Shapes of the Future

Hayden Persad in grade 11 from Creston, BC at the West Kootenay & Boundary fair: Development of a Pathogen Barrier Device

Kristina Garagan in grade 10 from Penticton, BC at the Central Okanagan fair: The Frilled Explorer Drone

Michaela Stillwell and Antonia Tannert in grade 11 & grade 9 from Prince George BC at the Central Interior BC fair: Straws:  Impact and Solution

Tienlan Sun in grade 11 from Vancouver, BC at the Greater Vancouver fair: TeleAEye: Low-Cost Automated Eye Disease Diagnosis Using a Novel Smartphone Fundus Camera With AI

Jed Borillo in grade 10 from Winnipeg, MB at the Bison fair: Bombyx Mori Silk: a Novel Alternative to Polyacrylonitrile Precursor Fibres

Ella Strachan in grade 8 from Winnipeg, MB at the Manitoba Schools Science Symposium fair: Neural Network of Dandelions

Wynonna Wood & Bree Racette in grade 11 from Ebb and Flow, MB at the Manitoba Indigenous fair: Motion Controlled Video Game Controller

Graydon Strachan in grade 11 from Winnipeg, MB at the Winnipeg Schools fair: Machine Learning Based Weather Cell Temperature Prediction

Amanda Zhang in grade 12 from Fredericton, NB at the North-West New Brunswick fair: The Conscious Spending App

Theodore Reimer & Isaac Martin in grade 7 & grade 8 from Campobello Island, NB at the South-East New Brunswick fair: Plant-o-Matic

Téo L’Italien in grade 8 from Notre-Dame de Kent, NB at the Districts francophones du N-B fair: Le réjuvénateur de marqueurs

Sydney Vaters in grade 10 from Pouch Cove, NL at the Eastern Newfoundland fair: Masks

Elise Munro in grade 7 from Port Hood, NS at the Strait fair: Air Powered Engines

Charlie McLaughlin in grade 10 from Yarmouth, NS at the Tri-County fair: Rate My Drive

Vincent Armstrong in grade 8 from Windsor, NS at the Annapolis Valley fair: The Green Machine

Owen Whynot in grade 7 from Aklavik, NT at the Beaufort Delta fair: Solar Power

Cyndi Rayson in grade 7 from Sarnia, ON at the Lambton County fair: Dead in the Water: The Environmental Effects of Sunscreen

Zoe Shufelt in grade 7 from Peterborough, ON at the Peterborough fair: Frozen To The Core

Olivia O’Driscoll in grade 11 from Kingston, ON at the Frontenac, Lennox & Addington fair: Using Machine Learning to Assess Trainee Skill in Central Venous Catheterizations

Avery Parkinson in grade 11 from Ottawa, ON at the Ottawa fair: Lab to Table: A differential gene expression analysis of RNA-sequenced bovine stem cells & myocytes

Andrew Mao in grade 11 from Toronto, ON at the Toronto fair: Rapid Detection of Concussions

Neil Mitra in grade 11 from Waterloo, ON at the Waterloo-Wellington fair: A Graphene Oxide Paper Microfluidic Device for Heart Attacks

Thomas Morrison in grade 8 from London, ON at the Thames Valley fair: Flushing Away Water Wastage: A novel automatic toilet design

Mehar Mago in grade 10 from Thunder Bay, ON at the Northwestern Ontario fair: Status of Mental Health during COVID-19 in Thunder Bay

Niko Voth in grade 9 from Thornhill, ON at the York fair: From Waste to Wonder: What can we do with Biowaste?

Sia Mehta in grade 7 from Collingwood, ON at the Simcoe County fair: Smart Sorter

Cooper LeSauvage in grade 8 from Hanover, ON at the Bluewater fair: A Helping Hand

Surya Narayan Santhakumar in grade 7 from Belleville, ON at the Quinte fair: Snowbot

Paul (Kyum) Lee in grade 10 from Hamilton, ON at the Bay Area fair: Development of a 3d Cursor for Robotic arm Programming Optimization

Cameron O’Daiskey & Isaac Jeanveau in grade 8 from Sudbury, ON at the Sudbury fair: Snuffed Out

Lucas Nguyen in grade 9 from Charlottetown, PEI at the Prince Edward Island fair: PEI Rocket

Médéric Lagacé in 5e secondaire from Témiscouata-sur- le-Lac, QC at the Est du Québec fair: BioFixC

Séréna Harvey & Mélody Gagnon in 3e secondaire from Saguenay, QC at the Saguenay-Lac Saint-Jean fair: «Joint»-toi à la décision

Benoît Audet in 5e secondaire from Québec, QC at the Québec et Chaudière- Appalaches fair: Sans-abri mais sans frissons!

Alexandre Grenier in 4e secondaire from Trois-Rivieres, QC at the Mauricie, Centre-du-Qubébec fair: Robot Robuste AlexBot

Samuel Provencher & Nathan Goupil in 2e secondaire from Samuel: Sherbrooke & Nathan: Orford, QC at the Estriefair: Polystyrène: VERT l’avenir !

Edward Kovac in 1e secondaire from Westmount, QC at the Montréal fair: Entendre, mais à quel prix?

Charles Dionne & Louis-Marie Lebeau in 2e secondaire from Sorel-Tracy, QC at the Montérégie fair: La Terre, et ensuite ?

Laurence Liang in Cégep from Roxboro, QC at the MRSTF fair: miRNA Discovery for COVID-19

Karianne Romain in 5e secondaire from Gatineau, QC at the Outaouais fair: Organes sur commande

Jacob Martineau in Cégep from Rouyn-Noranda, QC at the Abitibi-Témiscamingue fair: Mise en échec au DMA

Samuel Gauthier in 4e secondaire from Baie-Comeau, QC at the Côte-Nord fair: Comment figer les atomes

Hunter Kopeck in grade 7 from White City, SK at the Regina fair: Robotic Hand

Mitchell Friesen & Colton Koethler in grade 8 from Wymark, SK at the Saskatchewan Chinook fair: Measuring Volume With Sand

Cyrus Fern & Jenika Toutsaint in grade 7 from Black Lake First Nation, SK at the Saskatchewan 1st Nations fair: Elephant Toothpaste Experiment

Jocelyn Pon in grade 12 from Saskatoon, SK at the Saskatoon fair: Bioplastics: Production of Biofilms from Agricultural Products

Halia Pealow in grade 7 from Whitehorse, YT at the Yukon-Stikine fair: Immigrant Supports

Largely organized by dedicated volunteers, Canada’s more than 105 regional fairs collectively engage more than 25,000 youth, grades 7 – 12, across the country per year. Each regional fair is also award $100 to go towards the development of STEM initiative in the region.

For more information on Youth Science Canada, visit youthscience.ca. For more information on Ted Rogers Community Grants, please visit about.rogers.com/giving-back/ted-rogers-community-grants/.


About Youth Science Canada
Youth Science Canada fuels the curiosity of Canadian youth through STEM projects. A registered charity incorporated in 1962, YSC delivers on its mission through national programs including mySTEMspace, the National STEM Fair Network, Canada-Wide Science Fair, STEM Expo, “Team Canada” representation at international fairs and Smarter Science professional development for teachers. Through these programs, YSC provides direct support to the more than 500,000 students who do STEM projects in any given year. For more information, visit youthscience.ca

For more information

Samiha Fariha
Torchia Communications
Cell: (647) 268-6687
Tia Giannone
Torchia Communications
cell: (514) 999-1732
Tuktoyaktuk’s Mangilaluk School becomes Cultural Museum on May 31

From Kindergarten to Grade 12, students at Mangilaluk school in Tuktoyaktuk transformed their school into a museum of traditional knowledge May 31, with each class showing off a display of what they’ve learned over the year.

In a video published to YouTube, the children proudly display what they’ve learned, ranging from key phrases and nursery rhymes in Inuvialuktun to describing important plants and animals in the region.

“Each homeroom class created a cultural exhibit with Indigenized units of study ensuring traditional knowledge was the focus of the inquiry,” said Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council superintendent Devin Roberts. “Each class also infused Inuvialuktun language phrases and words in each exhibit.”

A 3D landscape of pingos and auroras put together by the Grade 4 class based on directions given by an Elder from Tuktoyaktuk. The Auroras move from side to side, emulating how they dance across the sky. photo courtesy of Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council

A 3D landscape of pingos and auroras put together by the Grade 4 class based on directions given by an Elder from Tuktoyaktuk. The Auroras move from side to side, emulating how they dance across the sky. photo courtesy of Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council

A clay sculpture of a Grizzly bear made by a third grade student as part of the cultural exhibit. Students not only learned about the biology of the Arctic Coast, they learned how to speak it in Inuvialuktun. photo courtesy of Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council

A clay sculpture of a Grizzly bear made by a third grade student as part of the cultural exhibit. Students not only learned about the biology of the Arctic Coast, they learned how to speak it in Inuvialuktun. photo courtesy of Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council


Fourth graders constructed their own animated diorama of the Kiuryait, or Northern lights, using a video instruction from an Elder in Tuktoyaktuk. In Grade 5, the students made wall hangings of traditional scenes using cut out fabric to display animals, plants and landscapes. Grade six students each worked on an individual project, with exhibits of traditional sewing practices, the making of ookpiks, as well as traditionally inspired poetry and pencil drawings.

In grade seven, a full display of the plants and edible foods of the Arctic coast was displayed along the classroom wall. It included details on the life cycles of plants as well as samples of many items. Eighth graders each painted their own scene in watercolour depicting a traditional idea, ranging from the midnight sun to abstract images of ulus. The grade eight students also entered into a scientific study of how hunters would use refracted light to spear fish under the water. In the process, they learned about the different qualities of light.

Ninth graders made paintings of historical landscapes of their own to add to the exhibit. The students also were able to participate in a week of traditional games and on the land activities to get a better idea of how they connect with their culture, and finally made sculptures depicting their culture.

Finally, high school students made use of 3D printers to recreate traditional artifacts, learning both new and classic technology at the same time.