Iqaluit's learning centre
Not even a fire can slow it down

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jan 25/99) - It takes more than a fire to slow Dan Page and his students down.

So when the Iqaluit Community Learning Centre's previous location suffered serious smoke and water damage during a fire at the Needs Convenience Store last October, the co-ordinator/instructor got on the phone and found a new spot for his 25 or so students to call home.

While that task in itself was a tough one, considering Iqaluit's space shortage, Page was also faced with relocating and cleaning soot-covered computers and furniture.

"The students all pitched in and helped clean up after the fire. It was a really nice cementing and it gave me the opportunity to get to know the students more personally," said Page.

Now located in the Baha'i House, the new location, Page said, is more comfortable, less institutional and helps promote learning.

Run as a community drop-in centre five days a week in the afternoons, students work on improving their literacy levels by studying a number of different topics. To make that learning more relevant and useful to them, Page said he tried to relate it to their own lives.

"I try to incorporate their lives into it. We've been doing resumes and working on helping them get their driver's licenses and there's one student who's doing a thing on a (Geographical Point System)," said Page. Students can work at their own pace at the centre and Page said that some of the classes are set up so that he can spend more time with each individual student.

And, he said, one of the most exciting parts of running the centre was when students realized their own abilities to learn.

"Initially, there's an incredible learning curve and excitement as they begin to learn."

Page said that excitement often leads to a plateau where the students slowed down, but this usually means they were assessing their lives and starting to set higher goals for themselves.

Evie Ishulutak said her goal after graduating on June 18 would be to get a job at the Northern Store.

"I'm working on math. I've liked math since I was a girl and I'd like to work somewhere like the Northern as a cashier," said Ishulutak.

Her classmate, Joamie Nooveya, said she was also studying math to upgrade her skills.

"It was a subject that I never finished when I was in school. It's not hard because we have a good teacher," said Nooveya.

Robert Aoudla, who just joined the centre, said that it was hard at first but it's getting easier. His end goal, he said, is to upgrade his skills and get a job as a delivery person.

"I'm working on my math and I need to learn about the computer and get my driver's license," said Aoudla, whose brother Paul is also in the course.

"I've been here since last year. I came here to learn."

For more information or to join classes at the Iqaluit Community Learning Centre, contact Dan Page at the Nunatta Campus of Nunavut Arctic College.