The Ring

Law student receives national Aboriginal award

Mon, 2012-12-03 14:39

Zarpa. Photo: Mitch Wright
Zarpa. Photo: Mitch Wright

UVic law student Elizabeth Zarpa is receiving national recognition for her contributions to the Canadian Inuit community. She is one of three youth award recipients in the 2013 Indspire Awards, previously called the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards. Zarpa will receive the Inuit Youth Award at a gala event Feb. 15, 2013, in Saskatoon.

“This award shows I’m on the right track. I feel honoured to be surrounded by such high achievers,” says Zarpa. “I am humbled and thankful for this opportunity to be among such an amazing group of dedicated people.”

Other award winners among 14 total recipients include: BC’s Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, the AFN national chief, in the education category; and former NHL player Theoren Fleury of Manitoba, in the sports category.

Zarpa, a 25-year-old from Labrador, is currently a Juris Doctor candidate for 2015 at UVic. She chose UVic over other institutions—she was accepted at several law schools— “because UVic is seen as a progressive school for Indigenous students,” and she began studying here in September, following a summer in the Program of Legal Studies for Native People at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law.

She says the Indspire award recognizes constant dedication to her education.

Zarpa left Labrador in 2006 to pursue post-secondary studies in Halifax at Dalhousie University, a school with a population roughly equivalent to her home community in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. She graduated in May on the dean’s list, with a BA in international development and political science.

While studying, she also spent three summers in Ottawa working with Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, and as an intern with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the national advocacy organization and voice of 55,000 Inuit living in 53 communities across Inuit Nunangat (the Inuktitut words meaning the place where Inuit live). The highlight of the latter position was an opportunity to attend the residential school apology delivered by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on June 11, 2008.

Her other involvements include participating in the prestigious Circumpolar Young Leaders Program, coordinating the Annual Multicultural Youth Gathering in Labrador, working with the University of the Arctic International Secretariat in Finland and volunteering with Canada World Youth for six months. In 2010 she was one of three Canadian youth elected to the national board for Canada World Youth, a program that pairs Canadian and foreign volunteers on exchange programs, and last year she was elected a youth member to the board of directors for AnanauKatiget Tumingit, a non-profit association representing the interests of Labrador Inuit women.

Zarpa is passionate about education and sees more schooling in her future aside from her current studies, possibly pursuing a masters, and perhaps practising law.

“My education has brought me to many beautiful places with many interesting people,” she says.