In 2013, Velma received her Master of Education degree from the Department of Educational Foundations, University of Saskatchewan. The Indigenous land-based program lead her to strengthen culture-based education in Inuvik and throughout the region. As school Principal, Velma works to foster collaboration with the community and school. Velma is a strong advocate for student success as she promotes cultural identity, diversity and academic inclusion through reciprocity. Velma has worked as an educator for 20 years and believes in providing all learners with a solid foundation in their daily learning. When you walk into Velma’s school, you feel a sense of community where the school reflects the history of the local Gwich’in and Inuvialuit people. She works with an Elder Advisory group to ensure that the language and culture programs are engaging and are founded on the traditional values of respect and relationality. Velma has seen the high school graduation rates increase as a result of collaboration between the staff, students, parents and the community. Velma has transformed her school into a community school by building relationships, improving student achievement by creating a vision for change through building the capacity of her team. Velma serves on a number of regional and territorial education committees. In 2006 Ms. Illasiak received national recognition as one of Canada's outstanding principals by the non-profit organization, The Learning Partnership. Her vision of including parents and students in the educational process earns her much respect in Aklavik.
Her success reflects on the training she received from the University of Saskatchewan’s Integrated Master’s Land-based cohort that is founded on strengthening relationships and honoring reciprocity and respect by connecting students to the land and integrating Indigenous Knowledge into the school system. Velma is a well known and beloved educator throughout the far North.