As a kindergarten student, Kelli McLarty remembers going home crying, “Mom, they say I’m not Inuk; I don’t get it.”
Living in the small town of Rankin Inlet McLarty grew up surrounded by Inuit culture. She later came to understand that, even though she wasn’t born Inuk, she could still embrace the culture around her. She speaks Inuktitut, throat sings with other Inuk women, wears seal skin boots and is proud to be from Nunavut.
McLarty says she’s wanted to be a teacher ever since she was in kindergarten. She admired her teacher and wanted to be just like her when she grew up.
Now in her final year of studies at the University of Lethbridge in the Faculty of Education, McLarty is working on a combined degree in education and kinesiology. She’s eager to begin her career teaching youth in Nunavut.
In high school McLarty saw the issues her friends faced. Some took their own lives, some became pregnant at a young age and others abused tobacco or alcohol. Her desire to make a difference in their lives led her straight to the U of L for education studies.
“I’ll definitely be a teacher as well as a coach,” she says. “I don’t expect to change the world, but I hope to make a difference in one child’s life or be a role model. I think going up north is where I’ll be most influential. I can relate to every challenge the youth may face because I’ve been there, too.”
McLarty strongly supports the Nunavut government implementation of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) values. Respect for the land, sharing with others, and a strong sense of community are all backbones of life in the north – all reflected in these IQ values.
“It really means traditional Inuit knowledge. We focus on principles like generosity, family, patience, strength, teamwork and being resourceful,” she says.