FEATURES: Nunavut December 06, 2017 - 9:15 am

Teaching safety, respect at Nunavut schools during education week

"This year’s theme is safe schools and respect for all"


Schools across Nunavut have been reminding students and community members how to stay safe and treat each other with respect in honour of education week, an event celebrated annually across the country.

Education week officially ran from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, but some Nunavut schools started their festivities early—and weather events in Iqaluit saw some events postponed to this week.

“This year’s theme is safe schools and respect for all, to emphasize the importance of providing support, education and advocacy to students, parents, families, friends and educators,” a Government of Nunavut spokesperson said in a release.

“Everyone has a role to help create learning environments that are conducive to the educational success of all students.”

For some Nunavut students, this meant learning about internet safety, while other classes spent time writing thank-you notes. For a few students in Naujaat, respect meant offering to clean up after dinner—and not just any dinner.

Education week events in Naujaat centered around a community Christmas dinner hosted by Calm Air, where about 300 students and school staff enjoyed a full turkey meal, served up by RCMP officers and Calm Air staff.

“[The students] had a choice of watching a special Christmas movie but they chose to come and do the dishes and the cleanup. That’s called respect,” said Tusarvik Elementary School principal Bonnie Russell.

“The annual Christmas feast has been a tradition Calm Air has been hosting for many years now,” Calm Air marketing manager Stephanie Thiessen said. This year the company hosted dinners in Naujaat and Whale Cove.

“We figured education week would be a great one to be able to give kids a big healthy meal. You need good meals to be able to concentrate in class. We thought that was a great kick-off for it,” she said.

Since there were 18 turkeys, Tusarvik School also made up plates of leftovers and turkey soup to deliver to more than 40 elders in town, as well as for families in need.

Students at Tuugaalik High School also enjoyed a feast to close out education week. There were mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, vegetables, dinner rolls, desserts and mandarin oranges, Russell said.

“It reached out to the community. It wasn’t just central to the school children,” Russell said.

Throughout the week, Naujaat students also learned ayaya songs, listened to elders tell stories, served lunch to their custodians and bus driver, and wrote notes to their teachers to say what they had learned from them.

Elsewhere in Nunavut, schools kept the theme of safety and respect going strong throughout education week.

In Arviat, the principal and a teacher at Levi Angmak School had a sing along with each class, and students made thank-you cards for their bus drivers and custodians.

Qitiqliq Middle School students started a poster project on respect, and teachers, elders, the school counsellor, RCMP officers and community members visited classrooms in Arviat throughout the week to continue the discussion on safety and respect.

In Rankin Inlet, Simon Alaittuq School introduced an Inuktitut word for every day of the week, which students would write in syllabics and Roman orthography. Parents visited the school for bannock and book reading, and students exchanged their old books for new ones at school.

Students at Rachel Arngnammaktiq Elementary School in Baker Lake hosted a cultural celebration with elders, had their parents visit class for a potluck and learned about caribou.

In Grise Fiord, older students from Umimmak School learned about internet safety, while younger students talked about how to make friends and be kind to each other.

Iqaluit’s Aqsarniit Middle School is now having learning sessions on safety and respect put on by a youth advocacy group. And, the school student council had a “moustache day” last week to grow awareness of cancer and celebrate Movember.

Students from each homeroom won free tickets to their school dance for making the best moustache.

Nanook Elementary School in Apex raised money to host an elder lunch where elders will be asked to share how they practised safety and respect in the past. That lunch will be held soon.

“Education Week is recognized across Canada to celebrate the essential role education plays in the lives of communities in our provinces and territories,” said a GN release. “Let’s all work together to help our students attend school regularly, and make school a safe environment for all children.”