Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavik September 18, 2012 - 1:37 pm

Still no response from Nunavik school board on Quebec French instruction order

“We do our best. We can’t always meet the needs"

Annie Popert, the general director of the Kativik School Board, was in Kuujjuaq Sept. 18 to speak to a meeting of Ungava Bay teachers. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Annie Popert, the general director of the Kativik School Board, was in Kuujjuaq Sept. 18 to speak to a meeting of Ungava Bay teachers. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

KUUJJUAQ —  The Kativik School Board has still not stated how it will respond to an order from Quebec’s education department to produce a plan by Sept. 13 on how to offer schooling to 15 francophone children in Kuujjuaq who speak French as their mother tongue.

However, five days after the passing of the Sept. 13 deadline, remarks by the KSB’s director general, Annie Popert, to teachers from Nunavik’s Ungava Bay, suggest the school board will not shift from its current position.

Popert has previously said that “the special provisions currently in place (up to five hours of tutoring per week) are considered to be very responsive to the special needs of francophone students.”

During her Sept. 18 remarks to teachers, Popert did not specifically mention the unresolved dispute among the school board, Kuujjuaq parents seeking French-language education, and Quebec’s education department.

But Popert did say the school board and its council of commissioners will “do what needs to be done, no matter how many people will be unhappy with it.”

The school board is unable to meet the needs of all parents, Inuit and non-Inuit, whose children have “special needs.”

As a result, these parents often decide to move south, Popert said.

“We do our best. We can’t always meet the needs,” she said.

While speaking to the teachers, Popert focused on what the KSB, established in 1978, has achieved.

The school board has not reached its goals, she said, but she and others “never lost their vision” for a school board that reflects Inuit language and culture and “all that belongs to us as a people.”

Popert urged teachers to work with the school board to reach its goal of achieving a strong school system for Nunavik based on Inuit traditions and language.

Teamwork will be the goal for the 2012-13 school year, she said, and finding ways to resolve conflict “whether it’s at the head office in Montreal or at the office here in Kuujjuaq or in all our schools.”

Salluit elder and veteran Taqramiut Nipingat broadcaster Elashuk Pauyungie also spoke to teachers, telling them about her youth, when “we were just Inuit, living our lives,” and Inuit kids learned by watching, not from school work.

Then, children learned everything they needed to succeed and thrive, such as building an igloo.

“That’s how successful and stable we were,” she said.

Pauyungie, who said she learned to read Inuttitut syllabics from the Bible, praised the school board, saying that, through its efforts, “we started standing up for ourselves.”

A similar meeting for teachers along the Hudson Bay is planned next month for Inukjuak.

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