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Congratulations Velma Illasiak

Velma Illasiak, EFDT Indigenous Land-Based Education Graduate and College of Education 2016 Wall of Honour inductee.

Congratulations Velma Illasiak, College of Education 2016 Wall of Honour inductee. Velma graduated with her high school diploma from Samuel Hearne Secondary School in Inuvik in 1979 and in 1999 obtained her BEd Degree from Yukon College. She worked for eleven years as a Social Worker and in 1993 began working as a School Community Counsellor. Currently she is the Principal of Moose Kerr School in Aklavik, the first Aboriginal person to assume this role. Velma accepted the challenge and recognized that the local graduation rate was low and took on the attendance and achievement challenges by working with her staff implementing a student achievement plan tailored to the local cultures.

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.
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