Attangalaaq Elizabeth Aglukark is crunching numbers in Ottawa as she continues to build on her academic credentials.

Already having attained a certificate in management studies and a diploma in office administration, Aglukark is currently in the third year of the four-year honours bachelor of commerce in accounting program at the University of Ottawa.

She’s poring over books related to statistics for management, intermediate accounting level II, corporate finance and international business.

When she attains her chartered professional accountant certification, she hopes to work for Lester Landau in Iqaluit or she may spend a year or two at an Ottawa firm, depending on her boyfriend’s educational pursuits.

Life in Canada’s capital city has its benefits. She gets to spend time with her sister, Karen, who’s also enrolled at the University of Ottawa and her brother, Brian Jr., a student at Algonquin College.

“I really enjoy having unrestricted high-speed internet, especially now that all my courses are online. Lower grocery costs and easier access to any stores are great advantages,” Aglukark, who’s from Arviat, said of Ottawa.

But it’s not all upside.

“Being across the country from my parents is quite tough, although I am lucky to have two siblings in the city with me and to be able to travel home for Christmas with funding from FANS (Financial Assistance for Nunavut Students),” she said. “I also struggled earlier this semester to find affordable housing and had to stay at friends’ houses for the entire month of September, which had very negatively affected my schooling last semester.”

Likewise, there are pros and cons to the pandemic moving learning online for much of the past two years. Aglukark’s classes are recorded and archived for viewing at her leisure.

“I always tell myself I’ll watch the recording later but it usually isn’t until an assignment or test comes up that I do watch them,” she confessed. “On the other hand, the online class does make learning much more accessible as I can review previous lectures if there was something I want to understand better.”

She was a strong performer in high school and she credits many people for that, her mother and father, in particular.

“My parents were always very supportive of me doing well in school. They gave me incentives to get good grades but didn’t push me to be any certain way, so it was easy for me to find enjoyment in education,” she said. “I did really well in high school with the support of my parents, siblings, and many great teachers and mentors.”

Find more stories on Nunavummiut advancing their education in the Degrees of Success 2022, available online here:

Northern Youth Abroad experience

After graduating and entering post-secondary programs, Aglukark landed a work placement at Lester Landau and later served as a junior bookkeeper at Nasaijit Service Limited. She found those workplaces were “very well suited” to her. That’s when she decided she wanted to become an accountant.

She also spent some time travelling by registering with Northern Youth Abroad (NYA), which took her to Abbotsford, B.C. to volunteer at the Greater Vancouver Zoo. During the international phase the following summer, Aglukark flew to Guatemala, where she worked with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for people in rural areas.

“The experience I gained from NYA made it much easier to adapt to southern living. NYA provided me with many tools and supports to make my first year living in Ottawa successful,” she said.

NYA was one of many agencies that provided funding toward her post-secondary education.

“Scholarships and bursaries make all the difference in my secondary schooling. Rent prices in Ottawa are extremely high, without scholarships and bursaries I would definitely be struggling to make rent, buy groceries and focus on my studies,” she said. “Every bit of funding helps so much in my post-secondary studies and I am incredibly grateful for every one of them. There’s no shortage of support of Inuit who are willing and able to make the commitment to pursue post-secondary education, and personally I make sure to tell every Inuit student I meet to apply for as many scholarships and funding opportunities as they can.”

Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...

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