Offender on release discusses benefits of the Kisarvik Program

BY HAMZA Al-baghdadi

Inuit communities share ties to Canada's oceans that span generations. They value the oceans as a source of livelihood, food security, and transportation routes.

The Nunavut Fisheries and Marine Training Consortium (NFMTC), a not-for-profit organization created in 2005, provides training opportunities to Nunavut land claim beneficiaries interested in pursuing careers in the fishing industry through the Kisarvik Program.

Kisarvik is an Inuktitut word which means “a safe place to anchor”. The program aims to reduce barriers to marine training for underrepresented groups in the marine labour force, including women, Northerners, Inuit and Indigenous peoples.

The program is funded in partnership with the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Family Services (Career Development Division), Kitikmeot Inuit Association and Kakivak. 

A special feature of this course is the integration of life skills, which include literacy, numeracy, problem solving, form completion, budgeting, banking, and resume writing.  The program itself runs for 12-15 weeks and the curriculum includes, but is not limited to, marine basic first aid, confined space awareness, WHMIS, SDV-BS (Small Domestic Vessel – Basic Safety), basic GPS and navigation, ship awareness and evacuation procedures, basic seamanship, and rules of the road at sea.

On March 28, 2018, Jonathan Agligoetok, an offender on release and currently being supervised by the Nunavut Area Parole Office, reached a significant milestone in his life: he was one of 11 students to graduate from the Kisarvik Program this year.

Parole Officer Supervisor Hamza Al-Baghdadi recently met with Jonathan at the parole office in Iqaluit for an interview.

For Jonathan, graduating from the Kisarvik Program is a whole new reality. He talks about how he’s adjusting and what he hopes to get out of his new career in the marine industry. These are some of the highlights:

Q: Let's go back to the start. What was it like growing up where you grew up?

Jonathan: Well, it was Kugluktuk, Nunavut, which is a small hamlet, but I grew up surrounded by the vast arctic tundra — so pursuing a career in the marine industry never crossed my mind. Anyway, there are very few jobs in my home community so when the opportunity came for me to live in Iqaluit, I jumped on it since there are many more pre-employment training opportunities over here.

How did you learn about the Kisarvik program?

Jonathan: I was working a dead-end job as a construction labourer when my PO picked me up from the halfway house one day and drove me to the NFMTC to attend an information session. My PO learned about the program while attending a tradeshow here in Iqaluit and recommended me for admission to their registrar. I am very grateful for the support and guidance my case management team and staff at the Uttaqivik CRC have provided me throughout the course of supervision in the community. I don’t think I would have come as far as I have without their support and encouragement.  They are my main supports here in Iqaluit given I’m not originally from this community.

Q: What attracted you to pursuing a career in the marine industry: 

Jonathan: The community where I’m originally from has very limited prospects for employment. As a result, I decided that I needed a fresh start and made the decision to live in Iqaluit since there are far greater employment and training opportunities here. The program I recently graduated from will open the door to many well-paying jobs for me. Also, the opportunity to travel to various domestic and international ports is an added bonus.  I’m looking forward to my new career in the marine industry and the many adventures out at sea that come with it! 

What would be your advice to Nunavummiut who might be interested in similar training opportunities in this field?

Jonathan: As Nunavut land claim beneficiaries, we are very fortunate to have access to funding for educational and vocational training. While working at sea may not be a right fit for everyone, it’s certainly a career opportunity worth exploring. You won’t know unless you try. Knowledge is wealth and I encourage young people like myself to never give up on their dreams. Nunavummiut need to take advantage of education and training in order to benefit from the territory’s growing economy.

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The Nunavut Parole Office looks forward to strengthening its existing partnership with the NFMTC and building new ones in this endeavour.

Providing offenders under our care and supervision access to pre-employment training in the North for Northerners creates jobs and economic opportunities, improves the security, safety and resiliency of our communities, and supports the economic potential of the North.

Hamza Al-Baghdadi is a Parole Officer Supervisor with CSC’s Nunavut Area Parole Office.

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