Nunavut DEA: there’s no policy to discipline kids for speaking Inuktitut
Cape Dorset school group “shocked” that nobody went to them
Members of the Cape Dorset District Education Authority say there never was a policy at their school to discipline kids for speaking Inuktitut and that they’re “shocked and discouraged” no one talked to them about the issue before it hit the news.
“The DEA would like to assure all students, parents and guardians, and all residents of Cape Dorset, all of Nunavut and beyond, that current school policies have been developed in accordance with the Education Act, and that there are no such policies or any practice of disciplining students for speaking Inuktitut in our schools,” the Cape Dorset DEA said Oct.31 in a news release.
The controversy erupted Oct. 25 when Baffin South MLA David Joanasie, who is from Cape Dorset, complained in the legislative assembly that a teacher threatened to punish a Grade 8 student for speaking Inuktitut.
“Furthermore, the student body was informed that if any student receives three disciplinary notifications indicating the breaking of the rules within the school, students would be suspended. All this predicated on the student using their traditional language,” Joanasie said in a member’s statement.
Education Minister Paul Quassa responded by saying he was shocked at hearing such information, that he will investigate the situation, and that he will not tolerate any ban on speaking Inuktitut in Nunavut schools.
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. chimed in a few days later, issuing a statement that says the incident vindicates the position that NTI has taken on education reform in Nunavut.
“Until we have fully bilingual teachers and classes where the majority of educators speak Inuktut, language and cultural conflicts may unfortunately continue,” NTI said Oct. 27 in a statement.
But the Cape Dorset DEA insists their MLA, and others, got it all wrong.
“The members of the DEA were shocked to hear that one of our teachers had been accused of disciplining a student for speaking Inuktitut in the classroom,” the DEA.
“We were equally shocked with the implication by MLA Joanasie that the DEA, our school or even a teacher has a policy to stop students from speaking Inuktitut or to discipline students from speaking Inuktitut.”
And the Cape Dorset DEA said the allegations that Joanasie made in the legislative assembly reveal continuing communication and procedural problems between their group and others.
“Had this alleged incident gone through proper protocols, we could have, and most certainly would have, taken immediate action to thoroughly investigate this and provide the necessary direction for remediation without delay…,” the DEA said.
The controversy comes at a difficult time for Cape Dorset which is still struggling with the “trauma and desolation” left by the fire that destroyed Peter Pitseolak high school last year, the DEA said.
Late last month, high school students, after making do with space at Sam Pudlat elementary school made available under awkward schedules, began using four portable classrooms that the GN recently installed.
The GN will spend $34 million to replace the high school in Cape Dorset, $2.5 million of which has been spent from the prior year’s capital budget.
In 2017-18, they plan to spend $14.5 million on the project, and about another $17 million in the years that follow.
The news release, which is undated, appears above the signatures of seven DEA members.
News Release from Cape Dorset District Education Authority by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd