Aurora Faculty teacher says it’s a blessing to show in whati dwelling ward

Darla Rabesca says she always loved studying and going to school.

She grew up in Whati and fondly remembers her time in the country and the lessons of the elders.

Darla Rabesca from Whati is teaching the Introduction to Office Skills course at Aurora College in her freshman year. She hopes to help develop courses and incorporate her passion for visual arts into her teaching.
Photo courtesy Darla Rabesca

As a new faculty member at Aurora College, Rabesca now shares that excitement with her students in her home community.

“It’s a blessing to be here and to be able to work in the church,” she says. “I like to go to other places, but I’ve decided to be here. I couldn’t see myself anywhere else. “

Rabesca worked at Whati Wellness Center for seven years and says she enjoyed doing workshops. Instructors like Jim Stauffer, now one of Rabesca’s co-teachers, often hired her on projects and encouraged her to volunteer at college.

In 2012 she decided to go back to school to improve her education.


Although she originally enrolled in the University of Lethbridge’s Bachelor of Fine Arts and Education program, she eventually made the decision to return to NWT to be closer to her family.

Last year she completed her Bachelor of Education at Aurora College and began co-teaching the school’s introduction to the Office Skills course.

Although Stauffer has only recently been working with Rabesca in college, he says she “has a real talent for reminding learners of Nordic values”.

“She has a broad knowledge and experience base that she brings to her position as a community adult educator,” he says.

For Rabesca, it is a great strength to work with students in the community in which she grew up.

“(Rabesca’s) students don’t have to explain what it means to grow up in the local school or explain any of the other myriad of challenges they face as indignant learners in what is still a largely colonial system,” he says.

Rabesca admits that she is still gaining a foothold in the new role, but is grateful to the staff who supported her and welcomed her to the faculty.

She feels lucky that she has the opportunity to incorporate her passion for the arts into her classes and help develop future courses with the college.

Elaine Harris, Aurora College’s program director for the Tlicho and Yellowknife regions, says each adult educator brings unique skills to their respective communities. “As a vital link between communities and the broader college community,” adds her knowledge and understanding to achieve responsive community programming.

Darla Rabesca, right, is a new adult education instructor at Aurora College. Rabesca is working with co-moderator Jim Stauffer (left) to train students in their home community Whati.
Photo courtesy Darla Rabesca.

Rabesca’s “deep knowledge and understanding of her own culture and community will be of great importance on her journey as an adult educator,” says Harris, who notes that “the educational value and therapeutic benefits of the arts as a stand-alone discipline are often underestimated. ”

Rabesca’s potential to develop more arts-based programs is to be welcomed, according to Harris.

It is early on for Rabesca’s teaching career, but she is optimistic about the future of her position and continues to learn in her new role as a teacher.

Although the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has brought additional challenges, she says, “I’m just looking forward to working with students and attendees who are excited to take classes online or in person.”


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