Current Initiative

Jose Amaujaq Kusugak Scholarship Program

Appolina Makkigak

We are faced with many challenges in our short lives. As Inuit struggled through harsh weather conditions in non-permanent homes, where food sources were dependent on hunters, Inuit still struggle to today. Although these are not like the battles our ancestors had to face, they still determine our future. Will we make it far still identified as Inuit? The answer lies within the actions we take.

Inuit were and still are very attached to the land, people and ambition. Much like before, we hunt during hunting seasons. Employees today are given the chance to go out hunting together as one because of Inuit qaujimajatuqangit values. This was not the case when we were without Nunavut. Because of ambitious leaders like Jose Kusugak, we have opportunities we could not have imagined before.

Inuit are unique. We are friendly and we have a common goal. I believe it is safe to say that all Inuit want and need their rights to go hunting here at home. We want to value our elders and their input on decisions made in the government; also, we all want to succeed. If we work together as one, using our ancestors’ words, we can preserve our language and culture like Jose did. Jose was a man who I believe lived to the best of his abilities. He, too, was attached to the land, people, and ambitions of Inuit. With the encounters I have had with Jose, it was clear to see that he supported education and Inuit rights. He wanted Inuit to succeed.

Jose Kusugak was a friendly man. His children are well educated along with his wife. I, too, am seeking this level of education. However, there are days I feel that students going into university need more financial help. The opportunity Jose Kusugak is still giving us today proves that he is still with us at heart. Having a family while attending school is harder than I thought it would have been. I believe this would be the time Jose would say, “Sapiliqtailigi, do not give up, your education is important for you and the future of Nunavut.”

Our future is reliant on those people of today. We will make a difference for Nunavut and the actions we act upon today will one day become a product for our territory. Education is free now, but what about our future? Surely, it will not always be free because we are a growing population. Therefore, we must take into consideration all of the opportunities we have now and take advantage of what we have. Although life is hard as a student now, life will be a lot easier once we have a degree of some sort. I feel that the soundless dreams we all have now will become our reality.

Each individual has their own battles to face on a day-to-day basis. If it were not for those who have fought for us, we would not be as fortunate as we are today. Skirmishes with financial income and everyday living could become a constant battle; nevertheless, it could cause one to fail. Therefore, it is up to us to keep moving forward, not only for ourselves, but to better those lives residing in Nunavut. We must continue to make Nunavut our land. Hold onto the ambitions, people and future of those who have already fought, to those who are fighting, and those who will fight the battles we are in today, tomorrow. We must stand as one to become complete to succeed.