The Hamlet of Gjoa Haven celebrated the graduates of Qiqirtaq and Quqshuun Iliharvik schools on the evening of June 2 with a parade throughout the community.

The community’s fire truck leads a parade for Gjoa Haven graduates as Covid-19 restrictions meant a traditional ceremony could not be held this year.
photo courtesy of Valerie Kogvik

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, schools were shut down in March, leaving those who were to graduate uncertain about getting the credits they needed. Students worked hard and showcased their potential in their efforts to succeed.

The nine students who graduated from Qiqitarq High School are Candace Eleeheetok, Joseph Gee, Boaz Ikkutisiluk, Ikey Kogvik, Liam Kamookak, Denise Inuaraq, Leannza Nimiqtaqtuq, Isiah Palongayak and Alaina Sallerina.

“I feel free now that I have graduated – no more teachers telling me what to do and I’m happy that we did not have to do on line schooling,” said Ikey Kogvik. “I tried applying to Nunavut Sivuniksavut but I was too late, so I will be attending Nunavut Arctic College in the Inuit Studies Program and am looking forward to it. I knew the community would have some kind of celebration for us. I want to thank all the teachers, they kept up with us and you guys just changed young lives.”

Ikey Kogvik and Denise Inuaraq pose for a photo following a community parade as they celebrate graduating from Qiqirtaq High School.
photo courtesy of Valerie Kogvik

Fellow graduate Denise Inuaraq said, “I feel very emotional and free, I want to thank all my teachers for supporting and helping me while I was in school. I plan on applying to college next year.”

Principal Trina Sallerina said she’s very proud of all the graduates.

“They graduated with all the credits required, validation statements have been confirmed and report card complete. I want the students to know how successful they all are and that they did not need to walk the stage to believe in the potential they have and for the community to know their success. They drove themselves from kindergarten to Grade 12. We plan on having a big celebration, but again it all depends on the Covid situation.”

Graduates at Quqshuun Iliharvik Elementary School moving on to junior high include Craigan Aglukkaq, Thea Aglukkaq, Keisha Aqqaq, Keira Aqqaq, Sidney Ameralik, Lindsay Anavilok, Tyson Angupyanguaq, Rylan Arviq, Raydon Atkitchok, Nancy Autut, Bianca Cipriano, Cassidy Eleeheetok, Robbie Gee, Calvin Totalik, Logan Hiqiniq, Jacob Jayko, Ava Kamookak, Mallory Kayuktuk, Bobby Kogvik, Rihanna Kogvik, Nadine Kununak, Stephen Kununak, Devry Nargyak, Peton Neeveacheak, Ivy Ooraq, George Palongayak, Keisha Porter, Olivia Porter, Tegan Porter, Theresa Porter, Edmund Putuguq, Chad Siksik, Jeremiah Tavalok, Kyra Ukuqtunnuaq and Tyra Ukuqtunnuaq.

Principal Emma Pauloosie acknowledged that this summer doesn’t present the best prospects for students on the work front.

“I wish good luck to all the grads and hope for the best for everyone, especially to continue being safe,” said Pauloosie. “It’s disappointing that summer employment is not great right now for those going onto secondary school and are not able to to save up.”

Residents create a sign to celebrate Gjoa Haven’s grads at the Quqshuun Iliharvik Elementary school for their parade around the community.
photo courtesy of Emma Pauloosie
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Rita Pigalak - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Rita Pigalak grew up in Kugluktuk and spent most of her adult life there. Inuinnaqtun is her mother tongue. She now lives in Yellowknife but remains intimately connected with her home community and the...