Hundreds of teachers converge on Iqaluit

Last major gathering before division of NWT

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

ANNETTE BOURGEOIS

Nearly 500 educators gathered in Iqaluit to share their ideas about education now and in the future.

Between 400-450 of those who attended the week-long conference were front-line workers, who spend most of their time teaching in the classroom. Most of the participants represented the Baffin region, but small delegations turned out from the Keewatin and Kitikmeot regions.

The gathering was the last one of its scale before the division of the Northwest Territories in 1999, a topic which itself brought forth several concerns about teaching and education in Nunavut, most notably job security within the new territory.

So last Friday when teachers had the full attention of one of the people leading the way to division, they queried him about that very issue.

Jose Kusugak, president of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, has always been adamant that the Nunavut workforce be at least 50 per cent Inuit by division.

“I was told by the NWT Teachers Association that you have a 10-year-plan to deal with Inuktitut-Inuit teachers versus non-Inuit teachers and I totally support that,” Kusugak told the delegates. “We’re never into a position of saying Inuk teacher in, Qallunaat teacher out. We’ve never said that.

“We want excellent teachers and whatever plan you have that we (NTI) can see and know that here is the direction you’re taking to produce excellent teachers, then that we will honor for sure, so I wouldn’t worry about job security.”

During the week teachers attended sessions covering a wide scope of topics ranging from behavioural problems and curriculum development to specific courses, such as mathematics.

Full agenda

“There were approximately 170 different sessions,” said co-organizer Jane Cooper.

She said in order to accommodate everyone, organizing groups were on the go almost constantly.

“The core group was working about 10-14 hours starting about 10 days before the conference,” she said. “It went really well and we’re very pleased.”

Any resolutions discussed at the meeting will be forwarded to the entire Baffin membership this week, said regional NWTTA president Peter Geikie.

Those resolutions, which aren’t available to the public, will be pooled with other resolutions from across the NWT and voted on in mid-April.

The teachers also took some time out to help raise money for local literacy projects.

About 500 people came out to a variety show that raised money for the Iqaluit Peter Gzowski International Golf Tournament for Literacy, set to take place next month.

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