The Public Relations Team had the pleasure of connecting and catching up with Ulaayu Pilurtuut. She graduated in December from McGill University through the Teacher Training program offered by Kativik Ilisarniliriniq. The program is geared towards the acquisition by Inuit Teachers of a teaching certification recognized by the Quebec Ministry of Education and Higher Education. Through our conversation, we uncovered what the most challenging part of her journey was, what advice she would give to prospective students and her biggest accomplishment (hint: walking across the stage)! Read more of our interview and join us in congratulating Ulaayu Pilurtuut and Jeannie Palliser (who could not be reached for an interview at the time) on such a milestone!

Newsletter (NS): First off, let us start by congratulating you on such an amazing accomplishment. We are so proud of your work.

Ulaayu Pilurtuut: Thank you! It feels good to be done.

NS: What did you get your Bachelor in?

UP: Bachelor of Education in First Nations and Inuit Education certificate.

NS: What did the program entail?

UP: The program is in collaboration with McGill University. The courses are taught in Inuktitut by other Inuit teachers who are working together with teachers from McGill University. The Teacher Training Program is in Nunavik and offered throughout the year, and some of it is an intensive session at McGill University for two weeks. I was completing the program while still teaching. It took long to complete, but it was worth it.

NS: Knowing how much work it would be to balance your family life, work full time and take on a new responsibility, why did you choose to enroll in the program?

UP: The job opportunities would grow for me. I love working with children and teaching.

NS: What kind of support is offered to students enrolled in the program?

UP: You have the support of Teacher Training Counselors. They helped to have a better understanding of what teaching is like. There are also support teachers who help you with the program. I felt very supported and found it quite helpful.

NS: How long have you been teaching?

UP: I’ve been teaching for 25 years.

NS: Wow! That is a long time. What grades have you taught?

UP: All levels, from kindergarten to Secondary 5. I always wanted to try different grades since they are all so different.

NS: What grade do you enjoy teaching?

UP: Grade 3 (8-10 years old).

NS: Why Grade 3?

UP: They are able to read and write by that age or at least becoming better. I can help them improve on the skills they already have. They love to work with their hands and are eager to learn new things and are curious about the environment around them.

NS: What has been challenging about teaching?

UP: Teaching to write in Inuktitut and to understand the language. There aren’t a lot of resources for science and math. Being able to teach the program when it is more advanced.

NS: How did you overcome these challenges?

UP: I relate it as much as possible to our culture. We have always had science in our life. We used it to guide us on the land. The environment is also a great way to talk about science.

NS: What helped bring these changes?

UP: The new curriculum helped and also being able to use more hands on approaches in math and science. We received more resources which helped us give better classes. Things like math memory cards help students to be able to count in their heads.

NS: What would you tell someone thinking about enrolling in the Teacher Training Program?

UP: It’s a really good job opportunity. We teach in Inuktitut, making it more comfortable to learn. You learn a lot from the kids as well. You do need to be committed. It can be hard and challenging at times. You must love children and be willing to help them become better students. It’s not just about the job; it’s about feeling happy when teaching the students.

NS: What are you most proud of?

UP: It was hard, not always easy to leave your family and kids. It takes a long time to complete and a lot of work. But it was worth it. I am proud to have completed the program and to have walked across the stage to receive my certificate.

NS: Again, congratulations and we can’t wait to see what you do next. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today.

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