We need to get Inuit children into the classroom, and we need them to be successful, and to do this we must focus on innovative strategies that will fundamentally transform our education system.
-Mary Simon, National President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), 2009.
This is a time of change within the education system in Nunavut. The Government of Nunavut (GN) has passed legislation to create an environment favourable to change, including a new Education Act, an Inuit Language Protection Act and an Official Languages Act; all based on Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ), principles of learning that honour traditional Inuit knowledge. This legislation, and current policy, calls for innovation in the way curriculum and Inuit languages are taught in schools. In addition, the recent National Strategy on Inuit Education (2011) calls on Inuit to collaborate across geographical boundaries to change the future through education.
Going Places: Preparing Inuit High School Students for a Changing Wider World is a documentary video developed as part of a research project funded by ArcticNet. The documentary touches on the importance of some of the priorities in the National Strategy on Inuit Education including:
- Mobilizing parents;
- Developing Inuit leaders in education;
- Improving services to students who require additional support to graduate.
Improving high school graduation rates is vitally important in Nunavut. Despite efforts to increase student success by reflecting Inuit language and culture in schools, graduation rates for Nunavut Inuit remain among the lowest in Canada for the Aboriginal population (Statistics Canada, 2006). The population of Nunavut is 85% Inuit. With 13% of the total Inuit population of Nunavut aged four or under, Nunavut is young and growing at a rate that is twice that of the general Canadian population (Statistics Canada, 2006). Education needs to remain a high priority to ensure the future well being of Nunavumiut.
Going Places identifies promising practices taking place in schools led by Inuit principals, Lena Metuq (Attagoyuk Ilisavik, Pangnirtung) and Jukeepa Hainnu (Quluaq School, Clyde River), who incorporate Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit into learning in their schools. The research findings address the recommendations in the National Strategy, as well as policy changes in Nunavut:
Inuit principals work closely with the District Education Authority (DEA) and parents to encourage students to complete school by providing individual support to students when they encounter personal difficulties and challenges, including the impact of suicide; Inuit staff take an active role in leading and guiding decision-making, and acting as role models for students; Elders are involved in the school and IQ is incorporated as students gain valuable knowledge by listening to their counsel and guidance.
The research is funded by ArcticNet and conducted in partnership with the Nunavut Department of Education and the Coalition of Nunavut District Education Authorities, with the Nunavut Research Institute acting as a collaborating partner.
Many thanks to all of our partners!
Fiona Walton (firstname.lastname@example.org), Research Project Leader, Faculty of Education, University of Prince Edward Island.
September 26, 2011