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Leading by example
Arviat teen national role model for Global Dignity Day Canada

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, October 24, 2013

Oct. 16, 2013, is a day Innosar Issakiark, 18, of Arviat is likely to not soon to forget.

NNSL photo/graphic

Innosar Issakiark of Arviat, named a national role model for Global Dignity Day this past week, relaxes at the TD Bank in Calgary, Alta., where he was awarded a $75,000 TB scholarship for community leadership this past month. - photo courtesy Gord Billard

The amicable Kivalliq teenager was named a national role model for Global Dignity Day Canada.

Issiakiark joined a large gathering in the old portrait gallery building on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, and thousands more from across the country and abroad via videoconferencing, to celebrate the event.

The gathering saw video presentations made by John Hope Bryant from Los Angeles, U.S.A., and Crown Prince Haakon from Norway.

Reached by Kivalliq News at the nation's capital, Issiakiark said he was quite surprised to learn he had been selected as a national role model by Dignity Day Canada.

He said it's an honour he never would have thought he'd receive.

"This did make me feel really, really proud, because I was recognized for everything I've done for my community and the people, and that's pretty special," said Issiakiark.

"It just made me feel really good about myself."

Innosar said there are many positive messages around Global Dignity Day.

He said on a personal level, the day has come to mean friendship and respect.

"I made a lot of friends through my association with Global Dignity Day, and it was so cool to have so many people take part from different cultures and places.

"Everyone gets along so well and there's a lot of respect for each other, so that's come to represent a lot of how I feel about it.

"My best friend, Ramon Kaviok, and I went together and we didn't really have any friends there.

"So, at first, I was feeling a little left out, but people started talking about how we're all equal and should be treated the same, and that got us more upbeat and feeling a part of things, which was why I made so many friends there."

While people were bursting with pride in Arviat over Issiakiark being named a national role model, they were also surprised when word got back he was asked to speak at the event, but politely declined.

Issiakiark has long been a member of the local drama club and is well-known in Arviat for some of his great stage performances.

He took it in stride with a chuckle and said, even with his stage background, he wasn't quite ready for an event of that magnitude.

"I know I can perform in front of hundreds of people during a play, but I wasn't quite ready to give a speech in front of thousands and thousands of people, so I handed it off.

"The people who were chosen to tell their dignity stories gave long, long speeches and, as proud as I was, I really didn't have that much to say.

"Not saying anything was OK, and the day was a great feel good experience.

"I'd love to participate in it again and, in the future, I'll love to see who are chosen as role models for this beautiful event."

Issiakiark was recently awarded with Toronto Dominion's $70,000 TD scholarship for community leadership.

He's currently learning about aboriginal organizations and events at Algonquin College in Ottawa.

The next school year, he hopes to start studying to become a mechanic, which has long been one of his goals.

Arviat teacher and drama director Gord Billard has taught Issiakiark in the classroom and on the stage.

Billard said, in his opinion, Issiakiark can accomplish anything he sets his mind to.

He said as long as he's known Issiakiark, the 18-year-old has always been very keen on whatever he gets himself interested in.

"Innosar puts a lot of effort, and a lot of himself, into whatever he takes on," said Billard.

"As a result, anything he does usually turns out well.

"He's the type of optimistic person who has the ability to always look at the bright side of things and find more positives than negative.

"He gets down at times, and he's been bullied in the past, but he always finds an inspirational quote or a friend he can lean on to bring him back to his centre."

In addition to the drama club, Billard said Issiakiark has been involved in the Arviat Film Society and numerous projects and activities in Arviat.

He said Issiakiark has always been an inquisitive student and a calming influence on whatever group he's associated with.

"Honestly, he's everything you could want in a student.

"In all the time I've known him, I never saw him lose his temper or his cool.

He's always one of the first to jump on the volunteer bandwagon, and he was a great participant in our leadership and resiliency program.

"He's very dedicated and devoted -- all the words that come to mind when you think of a kid who's doing everything right in school and the community."

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