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Sampling the work world

Kent Driscoll
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Dec 18/06) - A group of students at Inuksuk high school have the best of both worlds. They are earning their high school diplomas while also getting some on-the-job training.

Students go to school in the morning, and then spend four afternoons each week working at a local business.
NNSL Photo/graphic

Lucas Ipeelie sits at Siktu Sales and Service, where he is learning the ins and outs of small engine repair. As a part of his high school diploma, Ipeelie spends two hours a day at the shop - Kent Driscoll/NNSL photo

Lucas Ipeelie is an 18-year-old student who spends his afternoons at the Polaris dealership in Iqaluit, and they are glad to have him.

"He's a great help. We don't have to babysit him. Most students, you get them, they show up for a day or two and then it's all over," said Eddie Kell of Siktu Sales and service.

Not Ipeelie, he's so valued that when he's done his school time at 3 p.m., they pay him to stay until 6 p.m., to help keep the sleds running.

"I like it a lot better than going to school in the afternoons," said Ipeelie.

The program helped him get his focus. He wants to graduate high school and now knows which career path he wants to follow.

"I'm learning to become a mechanic, small engine repair. I'm going to take the apprenticeship program in February, through the school," said Ipeelie.

For Inuusiq Akavak, the program is a step toward the family business, policing. The 17-year-old's father, grandfather, uncle and cousin are all working for the RCMP.

When she couldn't get in at the RCMP, she chose the next best thing in her eyes, she works for the Department of Justice.

"It's not too bad, I'd rather be here than at school," said Akavak.

She is rarely tied to a desk although she was covering the reception desk for a sick co-worker at the time of this interview.

"I do whatever needs to be done. It is quite hands on. We give out appointments cards to clients at their homes," Akavak of her time in the field.

She sees the program as a chance to explore one angle of law enforcement before picking a career.

"I graduate at the end of the year, and I'm glad this program is being offered," said Akavak. "Most of us don't know what it is like in the workforce."