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From left to right, Amy Whynot, an E-learning monitor, stands next to Nadine Kuneluk, Matt Kanayok and Jacob Klengenberg — all graduating from their Ulukhaktok high school thanks to the E-learning program. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC) School ends in about two months, and for the community of Ulukhaktok, N.W.T., this year’s graduation will be historic.

For the first time in the community’s history, three students from Helen Kalvak Elihakvik School are graduating with the required university-level credits needed to pursue their post-secondary education — and two of them have already been accepted.

"I always hoped that I would at least go to college or university, but actually being in the process, getting accepted and applying for residence, is just making it more real," said 17-year-old Matt Kanayok , who has been accepted to Vancouver Island University.

"I’m just super excited."

Kanayok joins Nadine Kuneluk and Jacob Klengenberg in reaching this milestone.

The Grade 12 students said growing up in the hamlet, going to university wasn’t something that was often talked about.

Ulukhaktok is an isolated hamlet on the coast of the Arctic Ocean with a population of about 400 people. Generally, schools in isolated, northern communities such as Ulukhaktok don’t have the resources to offer all of the classes required for post-secondary education. The expansion of E-learning in the North

About eight years ago, the Beaufort Delta Education Council came up with a pilot project that allowed one student in the hamlet of Fort McPherson to take classes at Inuvik’s East Three Secondary School via teleconference.

That program is now called the Northern Distance Learning Program, also referred to as E-learning, where students connect with a teacher in Inuvik, and other classmates in the territory, through a giant screen, hundreds of kilometres away from each other. The program has now expanded to seven different communities — Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk, Aklavik, Fort McPherson, Ulukhaktok, Fort Liard, Fort Resolution and Fort Good Hope.

"We’ve seen a lot of these students start Grade 10 very shy, withdrawn, not quite sure what they are getting themselves into — to these brimming with confidence, self-identified success stories," said Gene Jenks, principal of East Three School. Photo taken at Inuvik’s East Three School. A teacher with his students in five different communities. The main screen is Grade 10 students in Ulukhaktok, N.W.T. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC) Before the E-learning program, students who wanted to take classes required for university would either have move away from their community and become home-boarding students, or do independent study where students teach themselves with given the course material.

Currently about 35 students across the territory are taking E-Learning classes.

Now, the territory’s department of education has partnered with East Three School to expand the program to four more communities starting this September — Behchoko, Norman Wells, Deline and Fort Simpson. Plans to join RCMP after college

Klengenberg has plans to join the RCMP , but first, he’ll attend Nova Scotia Community College.

Growing up, Klengenberg said he didn’t think university was an option. He thought he would stay in the community to hunt and fish.

"I never imagined that I would have been accepted into a recognized college so that was amazing for me to experience," said the 17-year-old.

Kuneluk plans to take a brief break after high school, but said it’s vital that she pursues her secondary education."We are really lucky as Inuvialuit students to have the opportunity to go to college or university … for free," she said. Principal Richard McKinnon (Mackenzie Scott/CBC) Helen Kalvak Elihakvik principal Richard McKinnon said he couldn’t be more proud."You’re invested in their education, you want to see them succeed," he said."Now all of a sudden, there [are] … three […]

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