'Believe yourself': Inuk nursing student to graduate Nunavut Arctic College after a decade of dedication

A lot has happened in Nubiya Enuaraq's life in the past decade — like giving birth to her two children.

But one thing remained the same: she kept returning to school.

After a decade-long journey, Enuaraq will be joining the handful of Inuit who've graduated from Nunavut Arctic College's nursing program.

The program was created in partnership with Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia in 2000. Between 2004 and 2016, the college has graduated 48 nursing students, 18 of whom are Inuit. This year, three more students are expected to graduate from the program — two are Inuit, according to the college's program manager for nursing Dora Carbonu.

"I think it's really important for Inuit to — well everybody really — to realize that they're able and to recognize their abilities and capitalize on those," said Enuaraq.

She was recently awarded the Embodiment of Nursing Award, which recognizes students who encourage inclusion, mentor others, demonstrate an understanding of Inuit values, and maintain good academic standing with the college's nursing program.

"It validates all the hard work [and] the sacrifices I've had to endure," said Enuaraq.

Enuaraq enrolled in the program in 2005. She took a temporary leave of three years after her first child Jonathan was born. When she went back to school in 2012, she re-started the program from year one. Her daughter Sianna was born shortly after, and Enuaraq took another year off.

But Enuaraq would "just keep moving forward," pushing through a total of seven years of schooling to graduate this year.

As she joins the now 20 Inuit nursing graduates in the territory's history, she leaves a word of encouragement for others: "Believe yourself. Never stop believing in yourself."

Childhood inspiration

Enuaraq pursued a career in health because of two notable women in her life.

"They were clerk interpreters at the time, but to me, they were the world," said Enuaraq, who visited the women at the local health centre in Clyde River, Nunavut.

"I looked up to them. I saw them as nurses. They were able to speak in their own language to clients and I wanted to be just like them."

She said she often misses her family and home in Clyde River.

"Certain seasons, I'll miss my grandparents and little things like fetching iceberg water for them during the spring time," she said.

But she said she's built a family in Iqaluit who helped her through the journey.

"They're everywhere for me," she said. "Every corner that I turn, I have a good support system."

Enuaraq's convocation will be on June 8.

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