Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut September 05, 2018 - 12:59 pm

Nunavut takes another run at revising its Education Act

Territory-wide community consultations start Sept. 17

Nunavut's minister of education, David Joanasie, announced on Tuesday, Sept. 4 upcoming public consultations across Nunavut on reforming the territory’s education laws. The Department of Education says it will use feedback from these meetings to amend the 2008 Education Act and Inuit Language Protection Act. (PHOTO BY COURTNEY EDGAR)
Nunavut's minister of education, David Joanasie, announced on Tuesday, Sept. 4 upcoming public consultations across Nunavut on reforming the territory’s education laws. The Department of Education says it will use feedback from these meetings to amend the 2008 Education Act and Inuit Language Protection Act. (PHOTO BY COURTNEY EDGAR)

The Government of Nunavut is giving education reform another try.

Education Minister David Joanasie announced on Tuesday, Sept. 5 new plans to amend the 2008 Education Act and Inuit Language Protection Act. Territory-wide public consultations will run from Sept. 17 until Nov. 27, in every Nunavut community

“Quality education requires involvement, commitment and support,” Joanasie said at a news conference held at the legislative assembly building in Iqaluit.

“This is why the Department of Education, along with the Department of Culture and Heritage, are calling on Nunavummiut to share their views on education with us.”

The first meeting is set for Rankin Inlet on Sept. 17, followed by meetings in Chesterfield Inlet, Whale Cove and Arviat.

The Department of Education says it will use feedback from these consultations to draft new amendments to submit to the legislative assembly in the spring of 2019.

In 2016, the Department of Education held similar consultations, which led to the creation of Bill 37, an Act to Amend the Education Act and Inuit Language Protection Act.

But critics, including Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and Nunavut’s languages commissioner, accused this bill of watering down Inuit language rights, among other things.

In the fall of 2017, Nunavut’s regular MLAs voted against debating Bill 37. It later died on the order paper.

The upcoming round of discussions will focus on similar topics, including educational approaches, the responsibilities of district education authorities and using the Inuit language as a language of instruction.

To support the consultations and provide a starting point for discussion, the Department of Education has published a leaflet called Ilinniarniliriniq Turaaqpalliajavut, or Our Goals for Education. (See document embedded below this story.)

This proposal includes a 12-point list aimed at reducing some of the administrative pressures placed on DEAs. For instance, principals would be responsible for implementing inclusive education, and the Department of Education would handle appointment panels for principals and vice-principals.

It also proposes creating a new DEA council that would be independent from the Department of Education.

When it comes to Inuktut, the document proposes amending the Inuit Language Protection Act to use the term “bilingual education” to better reflect the goal of offering education in Inuktut, English or French.

Like Bill 37, the new proposal would require the GN to deliver Inuktut instruction “as capacity and resources expand” and to extend bilingual education deadlines as needed.

According to the 2008 Inuit Language Protection Act, all school grades were supposed to “have the right to an Inuit language education” by 2019.

New timelines would be based on how many Inuit teachers the GN is able to hire, the proposal says.

New transitional bilingual education models would be introduced to increase Inuktut language instruction in the short term.

It would let the Department of Education assign a language of instruction and time allotment to each subject by grade level. It would also allow DEAs to choose a model that their community is able to implement based on resources.

This new proposal also suggests the minister of education may make temporary regulations while permanent ones are being developed.

“An enhanced education system built by and for Nunavummiut is one of this government’s top priorities. It must reflect the values and priorities of the territory, and produce graduates capable of pursuing any avenue they wish,” said Premier Joe Savikataaq in a news release.

Nunavut residents are encouraged to provide feedback to the Department of Education at the upcoming community consultations, as well as online, by mail or by comment card at a local government liaison office or DEA office.

“Education reform is still necessary and Nunavummiut must be involved in its development,” Joanasie said.

Although classes have now started in all Nunavut schools, there is still a significant teacher shortage across the territory.

Joanasie said the number of unfilled teaching jobs is always changing, but it currently sits at around 60.

  Government of Nunavut Leaflet and News Release on Education Act by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd

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(23) Comments:

#1. Posted by iWonder on September 05, 2018

It’s become ritual for our government to implore the masses when attempting any kind of meaningful policy.

On the one hand this might seem like a very liberal, progressive tactic used to legitimize whatever policy is eventually decided on.

On the other, it shows an insecure government that lacks ideas or insight.

Education is a complex undertaking, one that the vast majority of people have little to no understanding of. I wonder how much stock can be placed in such a process?

Does the government consider best practices from around the world? Do we dare look outside our own territory? Or are we so fixated on “made in Nunavut” solutions that we’ve become blind to what works and what doesn’t?

My hunch is we don’t. I hope I’m wrong.

#2. Posted by Steps for evidence-based policy making on September 05, 2018

Here is what needs to happen to increase the use of Inuktitut in the schools:

1) Create a standardized, roman orthography version of the language (as was done in Greenland).

2) Create a standardized Inuktitut-language curriculum for the earlier grades, and a standardized bilingual Inuktitut/English curriculum for the later grades.

3) Massively increase the number of NTEP programs running and supports for NTEP students.

As a young progressive person, I’m tired of conservatives getting to veto educational reform and language standardization. The youth need to make their voices heard - standardize or bust.

#3. Posted by Nothing Learned on September 05, 2018

So let me get this straight.

The same department of education that had to delay school openings this year because of a critical territory-wide teacher shortage is going to keep pushing to prioritize hiring Inuktitut-speaking teachers above everything else.

This is an impressive race to the bottom in terms of education quality for our children.

#4. Posted by Hackneyed Thinking on September 05, 2018

#2 You call your plan “evidence based” so, in that spirit does it make sense for the government “massively increase” spending on a program that does not produce results?

I say no.

#5. Posted by Steps for evidence-based policy making on September 05, 2018

#4 One of the main reasons that NTEP hasn’t been as effective as it could be, is because of the lack of a standardized Inuktitut language and curriculum.

That’s why we need to follow all the steps I listed, not just trying to fix NTEP without standardizing the language and curriculum.

#6. Posted by Skitcher on September 05, 2018

Quality education requires 200 to 300 Inuktitut speaking Nunavummiut to attain undergraduate degrees in Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Computer Science, Political Science, Sociology, History, Aboriginal Studies, Circumpolar Studies, Anthropology, Music, Fine Arts etc….and then also go on to earn Education degrees so that they can develop Inuktitut curriculum and teach classes at a high school level.

Without those graduates, our high schools will continue to be dominated by teachers from the South.

#7. Posted by Curious on September 05, 2018

Curious to know why Joe Savikataaq is prepared to risk his mandate in the black hole of Paul Quassa’s failed Bill 37. Anyone know?

#8. Posted by Put Your Money on September 06, 2018

If Education is the number one priority, then pay teachers more than anyone else is paid in Nunavut.

If the GN wants more teachers who are fluent in Inuktitut, then the GN should not hire Inuktitut speakers for jobs other than teaching, until it has enough Inuktitut speaking teachers.

If the GN wants Inuit to be teachers it should offer GN staff housing to Inuit teachers, not just to those being hired from the south.

If the GN is serious about hiring 1000 Inuktitut speaking teachers for middle schools and high schools, it needs a practical, step-by-step plan.  And it needs to provide the money to make the plan happen.  Why? Because there are not 1000 Inuktitut speakers with Education degrees sitting home unemployed.

Which will take longer, to teach Inuktitut speakers to teach, or to teach Inuktitut to people who are already skilled at teaching? And how much would each option cost?

Maybe try both approaches.

The GN keeps saying one thing but communicating something else.

#9. Posted by Paul Murphy on September 06, 2018

1.get rid of social passing. I watch more kids being babsat for 12 years and expect managerial jobs that they won’t get.

#10. Posted by Paiul Murphy on September 06, 2018

2.  Open up the NTEP program and bring in more students.  Pay them an attractive salary and housing to stay in the program.  Pay them to go south with their immediate families and specialize in all the subjects required to complete grade 12 and beyond.  Guarantee them jobs and housing upon successful completion of their studies.  In return the graduated bilingual students commit to at least 5 years of employment to the department and the costs (loans) will be written off, For those not completing their commitment a portion of the costs will be recovered. Costly? Absolutely. But we end up with a dedicated group of bilingual teachers that will be here to meet our vision of a truly bilingual education. And it’s only expensive for a while. A truly investment into our future,

#11. Posted by Inurulutuinnaq on September 06, 2018

Existing legal rights (language) must be protected and government must commit and dedicate resources to meet these social, legal obligations. 
Instead, government is rejigging their PR machine to try and sell a bill that already died on the order paper once.  They don’t address it head on, but one of the fears may be that government will be dragged through costly and time-consuming legal proceedings for failure to live up to legal rights Nunavut parents are currently guaranteed with respect to language of instruction.

Good work being done recently in material and resource development, but what about the NTEP review and resulting recommendations?  What about GN’s/Department of Education’s Inuit Employment Plan?  Dept of Education has changed their proposed wording when it comes to changes to the Inuit Language Protection Act.  They were saying before: “Give us another 10 or so years”.  Now they are saying: “We need more time.  Authorize us to delay this right as much as we want”.

#12. Posted by R. Williamson on September 06, 2018

To Paul Murphy,

I love your optimism.  Your idea sounds feasible.  However, there will need to be a significant shift in the culture of paid work in Nunavut for it to be successful.  Between abuse of sick time, requested LWOP’s, AWOL’s it would take more than five years for the average NTEP grade to complete the terms of your contract. 

If they quit I not am sure the GN will do an excellent job of collecting the money back, just like the housing authority has been at collecting arrears. 

The one part I do really agree with you is getting rid of social passing, or continuous progress.  A grade 8 student can miss 50% of the year and “progress” into grade 9.  While in grade 9 they are supposed to be completing the curriculum they missed in grade 8…...but then at the end of the year they once again “progress” to grade 10.  Progression ends in grade 10, they need to complete credits and this is where the bottle neck of 19 to 20 year olds appears… grade 10.

#13. Posted by Sivuliqtiit on September 06, 2018

be a sivuliqtik .  you did the run before.  you heard.  read some great ideas here.  (ie. see #2’s list).  now make the decision and forget the round abouts and high cost of travel.  done!  now set up a package and get it out there.  time is of the essence and costs are high.  this is becoming like the other rounds done to tell stories that will get shelved.  ACTION time!

#14. Posted by Paul Murphy on September 06, 2018

Thanks for your comments R Williamson.  I agree with your comment about a shift in culture.

But I believe a lot of it has to do with lack of allowances, lack of housing and lack of personal counselling for the students and their families,

My optimism tells me it can be done if we are a whole low more flexible and willing to access our deep pockets.

This reminds me of a potential nursing program student, who lived in College housing with her family during the past year and was accepted in the 2018/19 program.  But in June she had to get out of her housing here and re-apply for housing for the new year. Not very encouraging for the student for sure if you have the move from your accommodation and reapply each year.  Not sure what NACs reasoning could possibly be that made sense.

#15. Posted by The Truth will set you free on September 06, 2018

@ #2. Posted by Steps for evidence-based policy making on September 05, 2018

Who’s in office now & who was in office for the implementation of the curriculum the majority of that time?🤔

Seems it has been the Liberals & NOT the conservatives!
Tale a Valium .... but not to many, don’t need the conservatives being blamed for something they aren’t responsible for 😉

#16. Posted by Think about it on September 06, 2018

For all those who roll their eyes and say oh yeah pay the teachers more, take a look at the GN Job Postings.

You will find a Policy Analyst starting salary $92,196.00, for which you need high school, you usually should have a degree, but they will accept high school.  Now look at the Teachers ad; “All applicants must have a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.), be eligible for a Nunavut Professional Teaching Certificate” for this the starting salary is $75,006.00.

So if I was a young bi-lingual Inuk (which I am not) what career path would I choose.  Not much of a choice.

#17. Posted by Monica Connolly on September 06, 2018

#8 brings up a number of good points. At the secondary level it is not that unusual to find secondary teachers teaching in a second language to them. Back when I was a kid, we had qualified people who earned their degrees in Germany or France or one of the Eastern Bloc countries. It is not unusual today to find Asian teachers with impeccable qualifications from a non-anglophone country teaching their subject of specialization with a pronounced accent. So, yes, it would be an excellent idea to encourage existing anglophone teachers to learn Inuktitut. There aren’t too many Mick Mallons around, so these people may never teach Inuktitut the language, but they should be able to teach IN Inuktitut within two to five years, particularly as more resources become available.

#18. Posted by Fake Plastic Tree on September 06, 2018

#16 That you can get a 92K a year job as an “analyst” with only high school education really says it all about our territory (Inuit only, my guess?).

Our standards are incredibly low. Yet we complain that nothing gets done properly, and blame those damn “outsiders”.

Teachers should definitely be well paid. They should also be supported, which I don’t believe they always are (see the comments on a recent article about troubles hiring new teachers).

Though NTEP students do need adequate support, there is a fine balance here between incentivizing aspiring teachers and drawing in people who really aren’t committed to the job, or even those who are unsure, but are interested in the “pay cheque” (yea, good luck with recovering funds, do you really think that will work? Come on).

As a former instructor I found some “students” were really only interested in attending class for the pay cheque. Effort was often minimal with those ones; not all.

#19. Posted by Steps for evidence-based policy making on September 06, 2018


When I refer to conservatives trying to veto educational reform and langauge standardization in Nunavut, I’m referring to Nunavut Inuit who are politically conservative in the sense that they favor the status quo.

We can’t afford to continue without a standardized language - we are running out of time and we need to follow Greenland’s example before it’s too late.

If Greenland could do it, Nunavut can do it too. But it requires…evidence-based policy making wink

#20. Posted by iRoll on September 06, 2018

Monica Connolly, your comments are overly simplistic as usual.

“they should be able to teach IN Inuktitut within two to five years” ...

Do you propose this be mandatory? You need to get real, we have enough trouble hiring teachers as it is.

The only people who will be able to properly teach in Inuktitut are native speakers and maybe those who have years of experience living in Nunavut. Getting these people qualified is where our resources need to be directed.

#21. Posted by Teacher on September 06, 2018

If the GN does not amend it’s Education Act, any parent with a child in a school in Nunavut beyond grade 4 will be able to sue the GN for failing to provide education instruction in Inuktitut, as required by the Education Act.

That the parents would win is not a matter of dispute.

The only thing that is uncertain is how much each parent will be awarded for the irreprable harm being done to their children.

And our current Minister of Education is one of those who refused to let the Legislature discuss the matter at the end of the last Assembly.

It will be interesting to watch him dance and hear him sing.

#22. Posted by Umiliviniq on September 06, 2018

Nunavut faces statistical problem because of its population pyramid!
Too many students under 18 years of age and a relatively small workforce - 11,00 in July 2018 ( Nunavut Bureau of Statistics.

The number of teachers win Canada’s workforce approximately 760,000. this represents as a portion of the total workforce of one teacher for every 25 workers!  This means statistically Nunavut needs 448 teachers to keep up with the Canadian ratio.  Where will the resources come from to pay all the extra teachers of Inuktut - for their training, housing and teaching materials?

The late Jose Kusugak must be turning his grave with the frustration of still no standardized orthography!  Greenlanders because of orthography have had access to much of the world’s literature for most of the 20th Century.

Young Inuit must be prepared to look beyond Nunavut!

A word of caution - all speakers of Inuktut may not be competent teachers of the languageI   Umiliviniq

#23. Posted by TSA on September 10, 2018

most of our teachers are of those southern teachers.  we need more inuit teachers in our elementary schools who are educated and speaks inuktitut.  very well trained education is key to those who are involve with teaching, health system, and colleges.  education is bringing learning process to our kids into their brains, meaning starting at kindergarten a teacher in each community should all have very well educated background.  with a inuit ability, to speak and write inuktitut very well.  inuit are very proud to have our kids to go to school we all love our children and wants them to be in school and not get hated if i am to be of a certain family.  i grew up seeing white kids going into my school and for that reason a teacher now has to speak english and that was in grade school and most of my classmates didnt like it at all.  we were just kids..  and we didnt like it… anyway we are all proud to have our own territory and have our own system start soon.. hopefully!

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