Leadership And Literature: Kyran Alikamik Moves From The Top Of The World To The Front Of The Class
“I realized in grade 12 that I think my passion lies in learning, that if I'm going to be a lifelong learner, being a teacher in university would be the best way to go. I wanted to impact a student's life like a teacher did mine and pay it forward that way. Teaching people happened to be one of my passions,” explains Kyran Alikamik. He’s far from home, but he’s hoping to bring back leadership and literature.
He is from Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories and he’s in his third year of studying English literature at the University of British Columbia as a Loran Scholar. It’s a career path that Alikamik feels like he only figured out at the last minute, having only applied to one place. He wasn’t sure at first what he wanted to do but feels confident in the choice he made.
Back in his first year of university, Alikamik saw third and fourth year students as wise sages and it feels like just months ago he started university. People told him time flies at school but he never imagined it would go this fast. He’s enjoying school a lot and has been living in residence his whole academic career.
This year has been better than past years because in the beginning he was grappling with impostor syndrome and figuring out his role at school. Going from a community of 400 to a university of 70,000 has been a big adjustment. Being around so many smart, driven people after growing up unsure of his path was hard. To overcome the imposter syndrome, he went to therapy (something he strongly recommends) and spent time on his favourite hobby: running.
Alikamik loves fitness and considers it a refuge. Running at university has been a grounding experience and having something not related to school to keep improving and learning has been helpful. He also appreciates that being active adds to his health. “If you look after and respect your body, it'll respond in a way that knows it's respected and then you'll kind of have this feeling of health going forward into life, and it helps a lot with encountering problems,” he advises.
After moving from the North to the South for university, he has advice for youth considering the same thing. “The truth is, you're going to face homesickness, and it's going to be rough. I definitely won't lie about that. But the thing that will keep you geared towards your direction and able to tough things through is keeping an eye on your sense of purpose. Why are you down here? Is it because your education system has thus far told you that this is the path of life you should take? Or is it because you really want it by your own volition? That's super important to keep in mind,” Alikamik offers.
In the first two years of his studies, he found it hard to go home. It was expensive and seemed so far away. This year it’s one of his top priorities and he goes home whenever he gets funding to do so. With plans to go home at Christmas and the summer, Alikamik has a lot to look forward to. When he graduates, he wants to go to Inuvik to work so he can be a little closer to home.
What inspires Alikamik every day is the experiences he gets to have as a leader and seeing young individuals harness the power within themselves they don't even understand yet. He sees how these kids have qualities they don’t believe in yet but seeing them use their talents brings him satisfaction and inspiration.
Growing up, Alikamik wished he had a big brother and in some ways he still does. What he wishes he could tell his younger self is, “it’s okay to be different.” Being raised in a small community, uniformity and going with the crowd seemed like the safest thing. Looking back, he wishes he could say, “You’re on the right track. You’ve just got to be yourself.”
If he could give youth advice, he would share his own experiences. “I had people in my life that saw something in me that I didn't, especially in my passion for leadership and helping others in a very specific way. I would say, ‘don't be afraid to tap into that;, because I know that sometimes it's scary to move towards a higher potential for yourself, even though it's a good thing. It's uncomfortable and can be scary. Sometimes it can feel like, ‘it's easier to stay the way I am’ and not to awaken these things within me that I haven't encountered yet. In most senses, it is easier, but the sacrifice is worth it."
After realizing in grade 12 that his passion lies in learning and that teaching seemed like his destiny, Kyran Alikamik went onto university in the South. Looking to pay forward the impact he felt from a teacher who inspired him, he’s pursuing his passion of education. He’s far from home, but he’s hoping to bring back leadership and literature and turn the page on trying to blend in with the crowd. Standing strong in who he is, he has a vision for the future, inspired by youth and the people who surround him.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.
Future Pathways Fireside Chats are a project of TakingITGlobal's Connected North Program.
Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.