Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut August 22, 2018 - 1:30 pm

Nunavut, Nunavik still recruiting teachers as schools scramble to fill vacancies

"We might have to employ some other options"

Nunavut education officials are working to fill over 60 vacant teaching positions in the territory's schools as classes begin for students. (FILE PHOTO)
Nunavut education officials are working to fill over 60 vacant teaching positions in the territory's schools as classes begin for students. (FILE PHOTO)

More than 60 teaching positions remain vacant in schools across Nunavut, but education officials say this won’t lead to school closures or affect students’ academic year.

The beginning of classes is staggered across the territory, starting from early August through until early September. As of Aug. 22, Nunavut’s Department of Education still had 63 teaching vacancies—the vast majority of them across the Qikiqtani region.

“We’re still in recruitment mode,” said Nunavut’s education minister, David Joanasie. “And we’re trying to utilize all our sources from the South as well as in the North.”

“In the meantime, we might have to employ some other options,” Joanasie said, pointing to other non-teaching staff, like principals, vice-principals and support staff, as possible solutions.

“They might have to fill in on an interim basis. And we might look at combining grades.”

While teaching applicants are usually required to hold a Bachelor of Education, the department has also temporarily exempted that requirement for schools in communities that have the biggest shortages: Arctic Bay, Cape Dorset, Clyde River, Igloolik and Kimmirut.

“We try to have as many teachers as we can with their teaching certification,” Joanasie said. “But given the shortage, we do … have to explore other options.”

In Joanasie’s own home community of Cape Dorset, he said that Sam Pudlat elementary and Peter Pitseolak secondary schools were still recently short a total of 10 teaching positions, as the schools prepare to open their doors to students on Aug. 27.

But Joanasie said those numbers are changing on a daily basis as last-minute hires are made.

“There are instances where delays might happen, but it won’t impact the school program of the students’ education [over the school year,]” he said.

Classes at Ataguttaalik elementary school in Igloolik were set to begin on Aug. 16, the department said, though some grade levels have seen their start dates postponed while they wait for teaching staff.

In Iqaluit, only Nakasuk school had a handful of teaching positions left to fill before classes begin on Sept. 4, said its district education authority.

Principals at all four of the city’s schools anticipate they’ll have trouble finding substitute teachers through the year, which is a recurring challenge.

As of Aug. 22, the Qikiqtani region was short 43 teachers; the Kivalliq has eight unfilled teaching positions and the Kitikmeot has 12.

Joanasie said Nunavut is not alone in its struggle to fill teaching jobs, as many other provinces and territories across the country are dealing with the same shortage.

“In the national context, it’s happening everywhere,” he said. “But Nunavut has its own challenges. [Housing] is likely a huge issue. It’s limited.”

Nunavik school board faces teaching vacancies and renovation delays

In neighbouring Nunavik, most of the schools in the region’s 14 communities opened on Aug. 14.

But as of Aug. 21, the region’s school board, Kativik Ilisarniliriniq, said it still had 38 vacant teaching positions; 19 second-language teachers and 19 Inuktitut and culture teachers.

The school board’s director general, Harriet Keleutak, said the board will launch a new recruitment campaign next week, with the hope of filling all those remaining positions by the end of September.

Weather conditions and ice were also responsible for delaying the opening of three of the region’s schools, in Quaqtaq, Kangiqsujuaq and Puvirnituq, where late sealift deliveries postponed renovations.

Puvirnituq’s Iguarsivik school is set to open next week, the school board said.

Following a decision made by its council of commissioners last spring, all of Kativik Ilisarniliriniq schools have started the 2018-19 school year with a condensed calendar, the school board said.

That means longer school days, which will allow the board to cut a total of 10 days from the end of the academic year, Keleutak explained.

The school year in those schools will end on May 31, 2019, she said, with the goal of allowing students to go out on the land and enjoy seasonal June activities with their families.

Teaching applicants can see positions open in Nunavik here and openings in Nunavut here.

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(31) Comments:

#1. Posted by monty sling on August 22, 2018

the news about nunavut schools is finally hitting what the schools and the pupils are like up here. it has spread slowly over the years to hiring grounds down south. the stories are not nice, i mean how many schools has burned to the ground over the years, not to mention the chaos in the classrooms. the student’s behavior, parents dashing into classrooms in defense of their kids, shame. workplace in nunavut schools ain’t safe. $$$ ain’t worth the heartaches and depressions it creates.

#2. Posted by passenger on August 22, 2018

I sat next to a teacher on the airplane last year in November. The teacher was coming from a smaller community going back south. The teacher stated that he had been assaulted by a student and the school refused to do anything about it.
And these are the stories of teachers that go back south that scare other teachers not to come up here.

#3. Posted by Fantasy Land on August 22, 2018

The article states that “More than 60 teaching positions remain vacant in schools across Nunavut, but education officials say this won’t… affect students’ academic year.”

How is this statement even remotely plausible?

Also, I agree with #1 & 2. The amount of contempt for southerners in general is enough to put off any professional from coming north.

#4. Posted by David on August 22, 2018

No nice way to say this, so here goes.

BC and Alberta are in the middle of a teaching shortage, and northern parts are simply desperate. Alberta has the highest paid teachers in the country, next to the Arctic. But the difference is pay is small. If you want to save money, you may be better off in northern Alberta in the long run. BC may not pay as well, but it’s the best province in the country to live in with a fantastic quality of life.

Why would a teacher looking for a job go to either Nunavut or Nunavik? There are better options.

#5. Posted by David on August 22, 2018

At Passenger #2

This type of news sure scares off a lot of women as they don’t feel safe as home either.

I know young single female teachers who got very threatening phone calls from the “girly men” who get off scaring young single women. “I’m coming to visit you now” and “You’re getting %$$^$ ed tonight.

#6. Posted by Mathew Pierce on August 22, 2018

I wish I had the experience to apply, I love the Arctic and Inuit people!

#7. Posted by A NU teacher on August 23, 2018

Yes-exactly #1

Children are exhausted from being up half the night out around town, visiting friends or being on FB. A huge number of students have unaddressed needs-Nunavut won’t let students be formally assessed & identified, because then they might have to actually do something (money & people resources) to support students. Behavioural problems increasing- more & more students are effected by substances since birth. Things going on in homes-social services= a joke. No active mental health programming. Professed parental support: reality is very different. Rude, disrespectful, disruptive & uncooperative students create toxic classrooms.

Support from admin- they don’t want to deal with it.

Parents think their child’s behaviour is acceptable. Teachers would love video cameras in classes. People elected to DEAs!

Being harassed, stalked, subjected to aggressive & abusive students by student’s who are barely held accountable. Teacher burnout is real. Shared housing =more teacher stress

#8. Posted by Richard on August 23, 2018

Who qualifies to teach in Nunavut. I am a teacher in my mid forties with practicum and supply experience in both Nunavut and Northwest territories. At the very least I meet the Bachelor of Education requirement and northern teaching experience. I have sent out over 47 applications to almost all the positions advertised and I have called to verified whether my application has been recieved. I had one interview and that was it, yet there is still 60 positions vacant.

#9. Posted by Say your piece on August 23, 2018

#8. Could it be you are on the unofficial black list? Just saying!

#10. Posted by Rosa on August 23, 2018

@ #8, try with KI in Nunavik

#11. Posted by Genius on August 23, 2018

Ridiculous. No one with any sense wants to live in the north anymore. Why waste time and money? Why don’t they keep the schools closed? Same old, but getting worst. Uneducated teachers will fill in for the educated ones that are not going to go north to put up with abuse. But not only are the educated ones filling in, but they are also sleeping in from hangovers. Yes, and kids out in the streets all night long , throwing rocks at windows, and taking shots are street lights. Homework, they might call it, at least it’s afterschool activities for the kids. The north has no more good qualities, no more good character. It’s all about neglect, abuse, staying uneducated, and blame others for the mess. No only teachers don’t want to go there. Just look at Nunavik. The hospitals are so short of professionals that it’s a crisis. Yes indeed great towns.

#12. Posted by Scattered Mess on August 23, 2018

#8 Your comment hints that the entire department is a scattered mess. This is what happens when you hire people who are under qualified to run things.

How’s that shiny new deputy minister with a good name and no discernable experience or qualification working out for you?

You get what deserve, Nunavut. Truly.

#13. Posted by What ever you do, you are it. on August 23, 2018

People are the products of their self made behaviour. You behave well, you have good things happening. You behave with evil, abuse, neglect your kids, use violence towards your family, then your life is fully a bad life. You decide your fate. Not the government. You get what you desire. It’s the story of Nunavut and Nunavik, and the world for that matter. But when it comes to northern communities, it’s the worst. Small populations with so many self made abuse and neglect, that turns into violence, depriving kids of an education, depriving the communities of health care professionals. Some day, the government will have to intervene drastically.

#14. Posted by Hmmmm on August 23, 2018

I just looked, and there are 82 positions unfilled in Nunavut. Think of all the money the territory is saving! I listened to the CBC interview of Minister of Education and if i was a southern white teacher, i would not have felt welcome! We dont want you for long, we want to replace you, we dont want you to feel like putting down roots, so the jobs can be filled locally. Well, good luck with that then.

#15. Posted by chaos in schools? on August 23, 2018

There are many reasons why there are many vacant positions for school teachers in Nunavut and Nunavik.

For example: # 1 and 7 has hit a few problems; irresponsible parents who would rather be at home with their friends toking and getting drunk every night and does not care about their child’s welfare;

You have 8,9 10 year old children smoking drugs in the shacks behind their parents homes and their family members see them doing it and does nothing about it; You have the same children smoking cigarettes during classroom periods and recess time;

You have extreme violent behavior from these same children during their classroom periods slapping, kicking, punching, verbally abusing and spitting on teachers; If the childs household is unstable than these spoiled bratty children are unstable and why or how could a teacher from a southern community discipline these children if they do not listen to their uncaring parents.

#16. Posted by Anomak Niptanatiak on August 23, 2018

I taught at a Kitikmeot School, where a principal was working closely with the local DEA. Sure a lot of crap happened, a lot of kids over reacting, a lot of abuse at home, etc. etc. The focus we took, was to give our kids what they need, not want, big difference.

Some things we did, anti-bullying in every class, teacher meet regularly and talk about what works, and how we could find workable solution to what did, boundaries, meeting parents, including Elders, monitoring all areas of the school including outdoors, teachers involved in offering extra fun, activities, raising money for out of school outings, education on suicide, community support services, etc. Lots of work, lots of effort.

I would come home crying the first few months, and I shared with all who would listen about why I was crying. I was hurt, yes, and also seeing the negative ways our future leaders were trying to cope or the pain they were in broke my heart and reminded me of my school years in my home town.

#17. Posted by You cannot buy my soul on August 23, 2018

I taught in Nunavut schools for 20 years. I left because I could not handle the violence which worsened by the year and which no one wanted to out. Furniture hurled at you, being spat on, cursed-at, sworn at, walls punched put in front of you, doors slammed in your face. That’s just the kids. The parents of the kids who did that were often worse and more threatening and abusive. Calls at home, stalking, threats, reputation assassination and harassment. Hungry, tired, scared, traumatised kids. Limited resources. Hours of after school fundraising and programming. And the staff don’t by all of it weren’t Inuit because Inuit went home to their families after school and stayed with them on weekends. It was the rest of us: accused of being there for the money, forced to share accommodation, often reminded at every turn that we had no right to be there because we were the problem. I did my best but in the end you could pay me s million bucks a year and I wouldn’t return.

#18. Posted by Maybe on August 23, 2018

Maybe this southern school idea just isn’t right.
Maybe this is just another flavour of residential school.
Maybe it’s time for parents to teach their own children.

As it is now, it’s as if children have two sets of parents, one during the day and the other in the evenings and on weekends.

No wonder they are confused and often unruly.

#19. Posted by Future is dimwitted on August 24, 2018

#18 What genius!

Close all the schools and let the parents teach. A “made in Nunavut solution” is there ever was one.

You must be an MLA? (I hope so)

#20. Posted by A teacher on August 24, 2018

Children from age 4 to around 12 greatly benefit from school in the North in my experience. It’s a safe place for them, they have good attendance and learn many things about the world including a second language.

It gets tricky when adolescence hits. Some of them start mimicking their parents (not all of the parents, which is an important nuance) and clearly do not want to attend school. However the law is forcing them to attend, otherwise they might be moved out of their home from the Youth Protection services.

Then there are the students who do want a good education, have good behavior and attendance and work hard. They are slowed down and held back by those who do not wish to be there.

I say let the ones who hate school be hunters and second class citizens. Forcing them to attend is causing too many problems. Let’s work with those who want to and train them to be the leaders of tomorrow.

#21. Posted by Joseph on August 24, 2018

#18 Go back to what worked.  Regional school boards, like we did in the nwt days, maybe Iqaluit and Rankin get their own school boards.  What about that idea Mr. Minister you listening?

#22. Posted by #MeToo on August 24, 2018

I agree w/#2. As a former teacher who was the victim of insult & an attempted assault I can totally relate!

The incidents I experienced were met with total indifference and lip service by both the uneducated education committee, the majority having barely a high school diploma & the “educated” administration was certainly not much better!

The incident & (lack of!) responsible reaction (from the education committee and administration!) resulted in a near mass walkout of fellow coworkers who showed support for my plight.
Apparently it didn’t go over so well with the uppity ups & brown-nosers as the following year more than 30 teachers never had their contracts renewed (who showed support)!

Who needs that kind of BS from supposed grownups & educated people?!

#23. Posted by Call me Mom ....... my name is Mary Kaye May on August 24, 2018

My children read English, Inuktitut and some French ... two choose to be hunters and I amd deeply offended by the “second class citizen” remark in #20.
If we are treated like second class citizens, feel like second class citizens… eventually we will give up trying to be anything else….
Thank you 1-21 for reminding us how people really feel about us as they work and live in our midst and wonder why things don’t seem to improve!
Guess you all need to go back to school .... get educated cause it is well known that people don’t Change and face incredible struggles cause people #%^** on them…. they tackle the incredible challenges cause someone believed they can and will succeed…. you obviously don’t ... if you are south- stay there, if you are north and that miserable - maybe it is time to leave , without hope and belief that we are all doing the best we can, you have nothing to offer!

#24. Posted by A teacher on August 24, 2018

Madam Mary, I deeply apologize as I did not choose my words very wisely. In my view, being a hunter or occupying any other local job is perfectly respectable and admirable. What I meant by “second class citizens” is that their lack of education will not allow them to to create any meaningful changes on the authorities and at the political level. The educated Inuit who occupy these function are the “elite” or first class I guess.

Sorry for my poor choice of words. Second class is perfectly fine from my definition of it. I am not a native english speaker and I did not know that my words were discriminatory. I should have said middle class!!

#25. Posted by They're real kids on August 24, 2018

A lot of the problems mentioned in the comments here are very real. I know as I have experience both teaching and having my child in the school system here. But it is worth noticing the extremely cruel tone that is used by many people in these comments when describing children in Nunavut. This is a tone I have heard very often, and, amazingly, its usually from other teachers. The stress level can be extremely high in the schools here - that is absolutely true. But that does not mean teachers (who are adults) should describe students (who are children) as if they are worthless. It is incredible to me how many times I have heard teachers essentially blame their students for living in poverty while simultaneously collecting a higher salary than most people in Canada do. My advice to new teachers: don’t talk like the people in this thread. Instead make local friends. If your experience is like mine they will be some of the kindest people you’ve ever met.

#26. Posted by Mark on August 25, 2018

Thank God one of the teachers at the middle school saved it from burning down last year.

#27. Posted by Happy teacher on August 25, 2018

It is really too bad so many of you have had negative experi boxes or are full of negative assumptions about teaching north. I have been in Nunavik over 15 years and can not imagine teaching anywhere else. I love the freedom I have at tailoring aspects of the programs to ensure the engagement and success of my students.

Only thing I wish to see more is that all the departments supporting schools could stop assuming the worst about teachers intentions, being centralized and protectionist about having more of us involved in the development of new programs and re-assessment of existing ones, and find a way to show appreciation of the passion and commitment teachers have. A cup once a year with a thank you note isn’t as important as the daily communications, orders arriving on time, stress free travel booking, getting emails or calls back when they’ve been made.

I can honestly recommend this place to work! I don’t want to teach anywhere else!

#28. Posted by Matt on August 25, 2018

who saved the school from burning down?

#29. Posted by Old Smokie on August 26, 2018

Teachers don’t scare teachers from coming to Nunavi k. They merely share the realities that KSB failed to tell them before they arrive in the North…. it’s the same reason the rate of pay magically never seems to be confirmed until after you arrive on location…. The turnover is terrible new recruits are taken advantage of based on naivity and a lot of older teachers milk the remaining years before retirement…. which makes for a less than ideal school atmosphere…..but Hey when your school board has been passing out school leaving certificates with provincial designations for legitimate diplomas for years without question….... it goes to show you the level of educational accountability tthroughout the region….. But the sad reality is that the kids are the ones losing out because of the failure of educational authorities to address the needs in the schools….. as a result the community feels the pinch and deals with the embarrassment of high drop out and no university grads..

#30. Posted by Where? on August 27, 2018

#25 I don’t see a cruel tone taken towards the children of Nunavut in these comments. Where do you see that?

#31. Posted by A teacher? on August 28, 2018

#24 offense taken from words “middle class”.  Using words to classify, expresses more of what you do not know on the subject you are commenting on.

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