Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut June 02, 2017 - 8:00 am

Nunavut education minister can’t find Inuktitut curriculum materials

"I could not find what that person was talking about”

BETH BROWN
Minster of Education Paul Quassa says June 1 in the Nunavut legislature that Inuktitut language instruction materials in high schools are being worked on—but he didn't have any information to share about an Inuktitut curriculum prepared in the early 2000s. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Minster of Education Paul Quassa says June 1 in the Nunavut legislature that Inuktitut language instruction materials in high schools are being worked on—but he didn't have any information to share about an Inuktitut curriculum prepared in the early 2000s. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
South Baffin MLA David Joanasie asks June 1 in the legislature when the education department's Inuktitut language curriculum will be taught in Nunavut high schools. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
South Baffin MLA David Joanasie asks June 1 in the legislature when the education department's Inuktitut language curriculum will be taught in Nunavut high schools. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

Inuktitut language curriculum in Nunavut might get an overhaul, but let’s hope the territory’s education department has a plan to record and preserve any new learning materials for the coming years.

A week after hearing from a former Government of Nunavut employee that Inuit language curriculum was developed and piloted in the mid-2000s, Department of Education officials haven’t been able to locate the materials in question.

“I looked in to that and I could not find what that person was talking about,” Education Minister Paul Quassa said in the Nunavut legislature June 1, after South Baffin MLA David Joanasie asked if Quassa could confirm information in a May 26 story by Nunatsiaq News about an Inuktitut curriculum that was produced by the GN but never used. 

“Can the minister clarify whether theses materials have been assessed and evaluated and if they have been, why are they not being used in Nunavut schools?” asked Joanasie during question period.

The GN ordered the curriculum, which was organized through the curriculum and school services department, said a former GN employee who was a leader of the Arviat-based project to create traditional language curriculum based on the principles of Inuit Qaujimatuqaangit.

“We could not understand what the person was talking about,” Quassa said in response to Joanasie’s question. “Apparently that person was a teacher some time ago.”

The education department had previously told Nunatsiaq News that the project may have been built as a resource, not a full curriculum, and was possibly discontinued.

“The department creates many pieces of curriculum and even curriculum from outside of Nunavut that we edit in such a way that they apply to Nunavut,” Quassa said in the assembly.

Quassa did explain what was being done to retrofit Alberta curriculum for Nunavut, to adapt it for northern students. 

He also said his department plans to phase in a new Inuktitut curriculum in schools, starting with kindergarten to Grade 6. The plan is to start Grade 7 to Grade 9 Inuktitut instruction in classrooms in the coming school year, said Quassa. 

“The curriculum that will be used in schools have been put together properly,” he said. 

Quassa was unable to provide a timetable for an Inuktitut high school curriculum’s creation or use.

“For the higher grades—that is being worked on now,” he said. “We’re trying to create material all the way up to Grade 12. That is our ultimate goal”

The discussion in the legislature took place as the fate of Bill 37, an Act to Amend the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act, which many say will delay Inuit language instruction in schools, is still up in the air.

The Nunavut legislature’s Standing Committee on Legislation, tasked with reviewing the controversial legislation, said May 5 that it would recommend the bill not proceed.

A final decision could be made during the legislative assembly’s spring sitting, now underway, with the introduction of a motion to dismiss the bill.

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