Samantha Putumiraqtuq said living in Ottawa post-grad was the best change she’s made in her life so far. Photo courtesy of Samantha Putumiraqtuq Stewart Burnett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Samantha Putumiraqtuq had vacationed in the south, but it wasn’t until high school graduation when she had the opportunity to move away from Baker Lake.

“Moving down permanently was so much different,” from trips south before, said Putumiraqtuq, who graduated from Jonah Amitnaaq Secondary School in 2022 and attended Nunavut Sivuniksavut (NS) in Ottawa for the last school year.

“I love that I can decide what type of lifestyle I want for myself when I’m on my own.”

Going to NS was great in terms of the education, she said.

“I learned a lot about my territory and what my ancestors went through.”

She was also glad to learn more about Inuktitut, saying she wishes the NS programs could be held in Nunavut.

“From not being fluent in my language, I’m proud to have gone and learned how to speak it comfortably to help with employment opportunities in Nunavut and even with an Inuit organization,” said Putumiraqtuq.

As the NS campus is located downtown Ottawa, students are exposed to a diversity of cultures as well, and Putumiraqtuq enjoyed being around French people more and getting back into that language again.

“NS staff, let alone Inuit always encouraged us to have knowledge in every aspect possible,” she said. “Whether that is in our studies, going further in your studies such as earning college certificates to degrees, learning as many languages as possible, and even having knowledge on how to survive on the land. This truly makes us future generations thrive in our environments since colonization and assimilation.”

She also learned artistic skills such as seamstress work, traditional songs, making ulus and playing Inuit games.

Although she enjoyed the city life, she would have liked learning about Inuit history without the distraction of downtown sights.

“Living in Ottawa was probably the best change I made in my life up to this day,” said Putumiraqtuq. “There’s going to be a time in my future where I will definitely move back.”

This summer, though, she returned home to Baker Lake – and that wasn’t easy.

“I got so used to being on my own, having my own space and doing what I wanted any time I wanted,” she said. “I miss being able to do whatever I wanted, like going out shopping for things other than groceries and going out to eat at the same two restaurants. The thing I miss most about southern life is the culture.”

If she could do it again, she would have gone straight to university after high school instead of the one-year college program at NS.

“That way, I don’t need to keep applying to another post-secondary school,” said Putumiraqtuq. “NS offers a second-year program, but you have to apply to the second year, whereas for university I would have just passed my courses and gone to my second year in the fall.”

Now, she’s spending a year to work and save up.

“Nobody truly talks about how hard it is to just live off of student funding,” said Putumiraqtuq when asked what advice she would give new grads, adding that her parents helped her financially as well.

“My advice for new grads that are looking to go to post-secondary right after high school is to save up money for yourself, because when you are able to access things simply such as a shopping mall or a new restaurant, you’re going to need money for that.”

By Stewart Burnett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 14, 2023 at 08:59

This item reprinted with permission from   Kivalliq News   Rankin Inlet, Nunavut
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