Velma Illasiak is a long-term principal of Moose Kerr school in Aklavik, NWT. She was the first Inuk principal of Moose Kerr school, hired in 1999. For over fifteen years, she worked closely with the staff, students, and community to transform education for students in Aklavik.

In 2015, Velma gave a visionary talk at TEDxAklavik, explaining how Moose Kerr School has been transformed to offer more relevant and engaging education to its students.

She explains that change came from empowering Indigenous staff and teachers; revisiting the school’s vision and learning goals to integrate excellence in academics and cultural/language programming; and honouring students’ strength, resilience, and confidence. She concludes:

“In the 14 years of being principal here, we have come full circle. We have students standing up to issues here. We have student participation. We have students whose voices are heard. We have student self-pride. We have 101 graduates to this very day. That’s a milestone, an achievement to be celebrated by all. …Student success is (all of our) success.”

View the full talk here:

or here:

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