Nunavut’s health minister has announced a new scholarship created in the memory of Savanna Pikuyak, an Inuk woman from Sanirajak, Nunavut, who was killed shortly after moving to Ottawa for school.
John Main, the territory’s health minister, said in a Wednesday news release that neither the Department of Health nor he, wanted Savanna’s death “to be in vain.”
“I was saddened to hear of the untimely and senseless murder of Savanna Pikuyak,” he said in a statement. “Savanna’s death is a great loss to her family, her friends, community and indeed to all of Nunavut.”
Pikuyak, 22, had moved to Ottawa to begin studies toward becoming a nurse. She moved into a room in a shared rental she had found on Facebook near Algonquin College in early September, where she had just started studying in the pre-health sciences pathways program.
Within a week of moving, police responded to a 911 call reporting a woman had been seriously stabbed. A 33-year-old man named Nikolas Ibey was charged with second-degree murder. He allegedly turned himself in to officers when they arrived on the scene.
Pikuyak had worked for Nunavut’s Department of Health as a summer student in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Main said “Savanna was a role model and a kind and goodhearted individual. She cared deeply for her family and the well-being of others. She was a person who wanted to better herself to help better Nunavut.”
“We want her memory to serve as an inspiration and motivation to more young Nunavummiut who want to pursue a nursing career.”
The $5,000 scholarship in Savanna’s name will be awarded annually to one Nunavut Inuk student entering pre-nursing studies each year.
“I want to extend my deepest sympathies to Savanna’s family and community. I hope this small gesture in her name will help in their healing journey,” Main said.
Following the news of her death, Algonquin College told CBC News in a statement that it is offering resources and counselling services to students and staff.
In a previous interview Pikuyak’s mother, Sheba Pikuyak, remembered her daughter as “smart and bright.”
She recalled how the young woman had taught herself knitting, crocheting, beading and other crafts as a teenager. She was also an avid cook. Sheba said her family was trying their best to cope with the devastating news.
“She was truly exceptional,” she said of her daughter. “She had a heart of gold.”