Inuvik, Yellowknife and Fort Smith are seeing their populations rise once again as Aurora College students filter into the communities, swapping out their summer gear for textbooks and pencils.
Aurora College president Jane Arychuk spoke with the Journal last week about the territory’s hub for education and the new initiatives the college is embarking on this school year.
“We’re excited for the 2015-16 academic year,” she said. “Everything is underway and there’s a lot going on.”
The two-year business administration program at Aurora – formerly called management studies – is currently in flux. The college is busy rolling out a new adaptation of the program, which uses videoconferencing technology to connect students and teachers in Fort Smith and Yellowknife.
“It’s been under review and development for the past two years,” Arychuk noted. “It’s very healthy at both campuses. This year we’re offering the first year of the new program and we’re also offering the second year, the final delivery of the old program.”
Eventually, the idea is to run this program in a multitude of communities, eliminating the need for students in remote areas to leave their homes.
North Slave Campus
A year after celebrating the 20th anniversary of teaching nursing in Yellowknife, Aurora is revamping one of its most popular programs yet again.
This year, for the first time, those holding a bachelor’s degree in science or nursing now have the opportunity to upgrade their academics with a new two-year post-graduate certificate in rural and remote nursing.
Aurora is also building onto its extensive trades stream this year with a mineral processing program, hosted in partnership with the Mine Training Society.
“We have a mine simulator in Yellowknife,” Arychuk said. “We do have right now a full underground miner program running. Once they’re finished they’ll be ready for full training shifts as underground miners. Again these are all people from across the territory that took our intro courses in their communities and they were selected to be in the full 12-week delivery in Yellowknife.”
For years, the Aurora Campus in Inuvik has offered an early childhood certificate program via distance education. After receiving many requests, the school is now providing a one-year delivery of the program in a classroom setting.
Students in the far North are also training to care for elders in their communities. For the second year running, the one-year personal support worker program will continue, responding to the demands of nursing homes and health-care centres in the region.
“The one in Inuvik for the Sahtu region (will) meet the needs of their new elders’ centre, that’s being built,” Arychuk said. “Last year we offered it in Inuvik and all but one (who chose not to work), got a job.”
Outreach is important
Aurora is continuing to expand its education initiatives into the more remote communities of the North using a three-pronged approach: a mixture of local educators, distance learning and mobile classrooms.
“The Aboriginal language and culture instructor program is taking place in Tulita,” Arychuk said. The plan is to host the program throughout the Sahtu over the academic year. “Wherever it’s offered it focuses on the language of that region and it prepares people to be language instructors or cultural instructors in schools (or for other) people who need cultural organizers and coordinators.”
In another exciting move, the school’s new mobile trades unit is currently on a barge coming back from Tuktoyaktuk where it was used for career technology studies programming.
“When I start thinking about it, there’s lots of stuff on the go,” Arychuk said. “We’re really looking at embracing technology and making it part of the way we do business at Aurora College.”