In Your Words: North Slope Borough Mayor supports Uqautchim Uglua
On December 21, North Slope Borough Mayor Charlotte Brower presented Ilisagvik College President Pearl Brower a Proclamation of Support for the Uqautchim Uglua (language nest) Program. This support provides $153,000 in funding for the program. Mayor Brower's support for the program portrays her vision to help support working parents in the region through the development of sustainable and quality child care services, and reflects her continued commitment to the development of a local teaching workforce. The Mayor reflected on the dreams and wishes of the North Slope residents during her many years of public service and addressed the Uqautchim Uglua program staff, congratulating their tremendous efforts to the realization of culturally relevant programming to meet the needs of all North Slope communities.
Upon acceptance of the Proclamation, Ilisagvik College President Pearl Brower stated, "Mayor Brower's support of this important initiative demonstrates the spirit of teamwork and unity that is needed to build much needed programs like this in all of our communities." Uqautchim Uglua is the realization of a long term vision by North Slope communities to build and strengthen the Inupiaq language, one of the world's endangered languages. An integral part of Uqautchim Uglua is Ilisagvik's new Inupiaq Early Learning Associate of Arts degree program that will allow program participants to advance to bachelor's and doctoral degrees in education.
The Proclamation occurred on Kiavirvik, or Winter Solstice, the day that the long North Slope nights begin turning to gain more daylight, marking the beginning of a New Year. As the Mayor presented the Proclamation, the spirit of the special place of learning was evident through the quality of the learning environment built by program staff. Arctic animal puppets, arctic furs, blocks with etching made by Kiita students and strong visuals of Inupiaq life grace the walls of the Center. The Mayor reiterated the long term goals and vision of the borough's Iñupiat History, Language & Culture Commission in the area of language revitalization and commended Ilisagvik College for their role in this effort and that all North Slope organizations and entities have vital roles in the realization of programs that have long term benefits to the region.
Uqautchim Uglua includes components that directly relate to two of Mayor Brower's seven points articulated throughout her election campaign: Education and Child Care. "Child Care is the number one issue for all working parents. In order to keep a full time job, working parents need this service. I support sustainable, quality and affordable child care services and will support working parents." Through the development of a Child Care Team comprised of community partners Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, Arctic Slope Native Association, Ilisagvik College, the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, Ukpiagvik Inupiat Corporation and local tribal governments, the Mayor's staff spearheaded a series of community forums to discuss child care issues and engaged with local and state resources to launch the project. The long term goal of the project is the development of quality and sustainable child care services for working parents. Mayor Brower's lifetime service to the advancement of educational opportunities for North Slope residents is reflected in her strong words of encouragement and the need to understand that in order for programs to be sustainable and to reflect excellence in standards, workforce development needs to go hand in hand with program development. To this effort, the Mayor's Office will host an Education Summit with North Slope leadership in the spring of 2013 to address workforce development issues and to explore ways to provide more opportunities for career education and preparation for North Slope residents.
For more information regarding the Uqautchim Uglua Program, please contact Interim Program Director Devin Bates at 852-6257 or (800) 478-7337. Other partners for the program include the American Indian College Fund's "Wakanyeja 'Sacred Little Ones' - Tribal College Readiness and Success by Third Grade Initiative" funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (Grant#P3015070), Alaska Native Education Program; State of Alaska, and the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope. The program is actively recruiting students and plans are underway to visit with each community on the North Slope.