Karen co-founded the Pirurvik Preschool in 2015 with Tessa Lochhead. The Pirurvik Preschool in Pond Inlet, Nunavut provides early childhood education (ECE) that is child centered and based on the Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) principles and is enriched through the use of Montessori materials. The preschool is guided by the IQ principal Pilimmaksarniq, which allows children to learn at their own pace. Children follow their own natural curiousity by choosing topics that interest them. Both IQ and Montessori put the emphasis of learning in the hands of the child by trusting the child to know what they need. In February 2019, the Pirurvik Preschool project won the $1 million dollar Arctic Inspiration Prize for it’s high-quality, and culturally relevant innovation. Now 7 community daycares across all three regions of Nunavut (Pond Inlet, Igloolik, Arctic Bay, Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, Cambridge Bay and Taloyoak) will all be receiving training from the Pirurvik staff and all of the necessary furniture and materials to implement this successful program across the territory, and to make it community-specific.
Karen has a distinct passion for education and for protecting Inuit culture, land, and language. “We’re losing our language, our culture, our land. I believe education is key to ensuring that important elements of our identity continues to flourish and pass-on to future generations.” In conversations with her colleagues and community members, she reveals her deep concerns for the future of the Inuit traditions and languages. Karen works as the Adult Educator for the Community Learning Centre at Nunavut Arctic College’s Pond Inlet campus. This is the position which she has been involved with since 2009.