The Piliriqatigiinniq Teachers’ Conference, held February 13-17, 2012, provided an important venue for a Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) workshop drawing together Inuit educators interested in leadership in education. A keynote address offered by Mary Simon, President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, to 500 Conference participants set the tone by stressing the importance of educators working closely with parents and community members to overcome the legacy of colonization and residential school trauma, along with introducing the National Strategy on Inuit Education to the audience.
Simon opened the panel on Inuit Educational Leadership, which included three other Inuit educational leaders and was facilitated by Peesee Pitsiulak Stephens, Dean, Nunattaq Campus, Nunavut Arctic College and UPEINunavut MEd graduate, 2009.
Ms. Simon focused on the importance of healing and well-being as critical factors in leadership in education, sharing aspects of her own recovery from loss as vitally important in leading in a way that is more open and free.
Kathy Okpik, Deputy Minister of Education, Government of Nunavut, also shared her challenges as a child growing up in a home impacted by some of the issues that continue to affect Inuit students in school. Two Inuit principals, Mary Etuangat, Alookie School, Pangnirtung and Sarah Ayaruak, Leo Ussak School, Rankin Inlet, spoke about the importance of being Inuit educational leaders in their communities. Mary Etuangat is currently studying in the UPEI MEd Nunavut.
Following the panel discussion, a lively discussion took place with several Inuit educational leaders contributing. In the afternoon, a very large group of over 50 Inuit educators gathered together to continue the dialogue based on the themes that emerged from the earlier panel discussion.
The panel and afternoon discussion were recorded as part of the CURA research grant on Inuit Leadership and Governance in Nunavut and Nunavik.