Thank you, Minister Leona Aglukkaq, for that kind introduction, and also not just for your work as Minister of Health, but for the tremendous work you do representing this enormous part of the country in the Parliament of Canada.
Thanks also to our hosts here at Nunavut Arctic College: to President Mike Shouldice and to the whole team. Greetings as well to Premier Aariak, to Minister Shewchuk and to Mayor Redfern, and of course, greetings as well to my Parliamentary colleague who kicked us off today, Senator Dennis Patterson.
It’s a real pleasure to be back in Iqaluit, in the place of many fish, and to breathe in the crisp, clean ocean air coming in from Frobisher Bay. It’s very crisp and clean today. As you know, I visit this region every summer, but it is also exciting to experience some winter life in this beautiful part of Canada.
As I’ve said frequently, our Northern Strategy is based on four pillars: asserting Canada’s sovereignty, encouraging development, protecting the environment and developing governance. Today, I’m here to talk about development and specifically our plan to ensure Northerners take full advantage of new opportunities.
Friends, it is imperative that development in the North benefits the people who live here, and education is critical to making sure that Northern jobs will be filled by Northerners. That’s why Nunavut Arctic College is such a valuable institution. You already do excellent work not just here in Iqaluit, but at campuses and community learning centres throughout Nunavut.
And while education is important across the country, it is especially critical to the prosperity of this territory, because Nunavut has the youngest population in all of Canada.
Sadly, not everyone graduates from high school, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on those people.
There must be a second chance for everyone who sincerely wants to go back to school and build a better life for themselves, and for their families. Adult Basic Education provides opportunities for people to develop basic numeracy, literacy and workplace skills. Adult Basic Education, ladies and gentlemen, is not just a goal in and of itself. It is also an important means to an end.
Sometimes it leads to a first job. That’s why it is often referred to as pre-employment training. And often, it is the first step on a journey that includes a diploma course or skills training leading to a new career.
The campuses and community learning centres of this college do an outstanding job of bringing Adult Basic Education to people across Nunavut, but there is more
Today I am pleased to announce that our government shall provide new funding to strengthen Adult Basic Education programs in Canada’s three territories. And to make sure
that programs are delivered in communities right across the North, we will work with our partners here in the North, at Yukon College, at Aurora College in the Northwest Territories, and of course, here at Nunavut Arctic College.
This builds on our investments under the Knowledge Infrastructure Program to expand Northern education. Working together, we’ve built new campuses for Yukon College at Pelly Crossing and Dawson City, a community learning centre for Aurora College at Tsiigehtchic, and cyber infrastructure for Nunavut Arctic College.
As these three colleges reach out to more and more communities, they are bringing education to people, wherever they live. These are investments in long-term capacity that will strengthen education in the North, not just for one year, and not just for five years, but for a generation to come.
Let me be clear, about what this means: more courses will be offered by more teachers at more locations right across all three territories. And this is critical for people who live in remote communities.
Most important, this will ensure that Adult Basic Education programs are designed to meet the unique challenges and opportunities of the North. So, for example, this funding will help the colleges develop course materials specifically to meet the needs of Aboriginal students.
We can also help more Aboriginal-Canadians bring educational programs into their own communities, as teachers. As well, programs can be designed to fit the local job market. In fact, the colleges are already working with employers to deliver programs that can help people get specific jobs.
Travel challenges can be addressed by providing instruction on-site, at mining camps, for example, and in other workplaces. This has enormous potential. Many northern workers want to learn a new skill to earn a promotion. We will see that they get that chance.
Ladies and gentlemen, we all know that, as resource development increases, more jobs are coming to Canada’s territories. These programs will be designed to help Northerners take full advantage of the new jobs, at home, in their own communities.
I believe that employers succeed when they hire people with roots in the community, and this program, will help them to do just that. Expanding educational opportunities will help ensure that jobs in the North become jobs for Northerners.
Friends, to sum up, we are investing in education today because we believe it will build a more prosperous future for everyone who calls the North home.