Federal task force has 37 ideas to help northerners get post-secondary education

Report calls for better financing programs, internet access

A task force on improving postsecondary education for northerners was released Thursday. Arctic College, seen here, is one of the post-secondary institutions included in the report. (File photo)

By David Lochead

A federal task force for recommending improvements to the northern post-secondary education system released a report this week with 37 calls to action.

The task force was formed in 2020, by Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal, with the intention of creating a document that shows what is needed to reach this goal.

In 2016, nearly 50 per cent of Nunavut students had the equivalent of a high school diploma compared to approximately 86 per cent of Canadians overall.

There are 13 members on the task force, including Peesee Pitsiulak, dean of Nunavut Arctic College’s Nunatta campus, and Nunavut Law program student James Takkiruq.

The calls to action in the report cover topics such as better incorporation of Indigenous culture and education in the post-secondary system, better housing and financing programs.

Other items include an investment in the kindergarten to Grade 12 education that mirrors the federal daycare program; improving internet access for remote learning; and increased funding for counselling during secondary and post-secondary education.

It’s also important to ensure Inuit organizations are included in the process of developing policies for northern post-secondary education, task force member Erika Marteleira said.

“The key thing here is Inuit self-determination when it comes to education,” she said.

Collecting the data during the pandemic was a challenge but the task force did not want to delay the report, according to Marteleira.

For Nunavut, five focus group sessions were held and included Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, Nunavut Teachers Education Program students, educators, local district education authority members, regional Inuit organizations, educators, as well current and former students.

The task force also handed out a survey, which garnered feedback from 500 participants.

The survey found that specific programming, locally available education, housing and financial support were the largest factors for considering postsecondary education among participants.

“The money they get is barely above the poverty line,” one participant said of student’s financial assistance to go to post-secondary school.

Marteleira said that accomplishing the report’s calls to action will require all levels of government and Inuit organizations to collaborate on funding and programming.

She added that overlapping responsibilities between governments creates “quite a complex landscape to solve these problems.”

But, Marteleira said, that has been the challenge for the past few decades.

“What the task force is really calling for this collaboration to start getting things done,” she said.

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(21) Comments:

  1. Posted by iWonder on

    It seems like these high-level brainstorm sessions tend to cast a very wide net both in terms of who is included in them (“It’s… important to ensure Inuit organizations are included in the process”) and around the issues they try to address.

    The unintended result, it seems, is that by addressing ‘everything’ they focus on nothing, by including everyone they ensure any kind of process will be hopelessly bogged down and cumbersome. Again, nothing is what gets done.

    There also seems to be a reflexive impulse to address and prioritize unclear, symbolic issues. For example, “Inuit self-determination when it comes to education.” I’m not saying that is unimportant. Yet, wonder if it can it be described in a way that makes its importance in improving educational attainment and outcomes clear and obvious. My concern is that liturgical exercises like this reflect an underlying closed off-ed-ness to outside ideas and influence, a common theme in Nunavut. Understandable, on one level, but counter-productive at a larger scale.

  2. Posted by Hmm on

    “The money they get is barely above the poverty line,” one participant said of student’s financial assistance to go to post-secondary school.
    I had thought tuition, flights and living accommodations were covered by the GNunder FANS and by the federal government for Inuit?
    Being just above the poverty line is a right of passage for most Canadians doing post secondary…loans barely covered it all and eventually need to be repaid.

    • Posted by We Don’t Know How Good We Have…Well, Some Of Us Do on

      Nail meet head.

      Our students from Nunavut are so privileged, but good luck getting anyone to acknowledge that.

  3. Posted by 867 on

    “better financing programs” is a joke. Aboriginal people are already the most subsidized group for postsecondary. Those who are lucky enough to graduate generally do so with zero debt and a world of opportunity. The problem lies at the roots, not at the top. Start by improving education in grade school, and no more fluffing up grades to pass students. A grade 12 education should mean a grade 12 education.

    Graduating with $100,000 in student loans is not uncommon, nor is working 2 part-time jobs while studying Full-time. If anyone is serious about their post secondary ambitions, they will work hard as hell to pass and pay for their studies. Simple as that. Like they say, “if you cant swim, get out of the ocean”//.

  4. Posted by frustrated parents on

    teachers abuse their power most times especially being prejudice towards Inuit! This makes me very angry.
    My child spoke up the truth and guess what!?!?!? Never fails, kicks him out of school!
    Most southerner teachers cannot stand to be outmart and they get mad, that is very unprofessional and immature!!!

  5. Posted by Band Wagon SKUNK WORK’s – LET’s LEAD EDUCATION to IMPROVED on

    You need to improved ACADEMIC level’s in all different level’s from Primary to Senior High;

    – HISTORY (Social Study’s)
    – PHYSICAL EDUCATION (Gym Classes fitness)
    Inuktitut (how to read & write)

    The Education that is NOT relevant to Student’s LEARNING needs to be improved, and monitored closely i.e. you do NOT need FULL-TIME scale of AULAJAAQTUT program that is certainly NOT to Student’s EDUCATION, or Learning.

    • Posted by Band Wagon SKUNK WORK’s on

      KSO needs to make an effort to improved academic education that is relevant to students EDUCATION, and LEARNING. Sociopathy needs to be monitored closely as to who is hired in school i.e. Teachers’ qualification background. The experiences noticed over period of time of Gr.12 graduates is they can barely read, or write ENGLISH grammar. The Gr.12 graduates that are presume handed completion of certificate for graduating are basically not enrolling to post-secondary due to poor quality education delivered over period of time.

      This certainly raises concern in particularly with small rural school’s.

  6. Posted by One answer to everything on

    So it seems here the Kitikmeot there has been a mass exodus of school staff year after year since 2018. Their KSO really needs a major overhaul from the top (the very top) trickling right through the division. I had major hopes in my kid’s education since the new government but nothing has changed…..they’re still only micromanaging and spying on the schools with their relatives on staff, not leaving principals enough room to decide on their own within the scope of their authority….superintendent goes into schools to make decisions in teaching assignments, support staff and everything else within the principal’s authority. Creating incredibly toxic environments throughout the region. It’s unbelievable how they get away with it all, it doesn’t take a genius to see the harm that is imposed on the schools, ultimately the kids. Parents, join me in speaking up. Write to your MLAs and DEAs. The kids need a safe place to learn, once they feel safe then learning can take place. Dept of Ed., look at the attendance statistics, covid had nothing to do with it. Look at how many staff are on stress leave, and have departed. Look at how many terms were ended just bc they did not conform to their toxicity. Yes, other avenues to deal with this but the department has done nothing so far for years….our poor kids are the ones paying for it in the end with over half the staff as subs ….some of who set up kids to GN network and play pub G. Isn’t this alone concerning? That’s not all of it.

    • Posted by Another brick that fell on

      The KSO is systematically destroying the education programs in the kitikmeot exactly as you described. The union gets to own some of this too for their lack of support and ability to substantively fix this. When do performance reviews for the superintendent or the executive director Get measured by teacher retention or staff input? If you were a teacher thinking of coming into this region think again.

    • Posted by Grandpa on

      Unfortunately everything you said is correct and nothing changes when you go to the MLA or Minister of Education. In order for a change a couple of things need to happen: 1) The people in power would have to honestly admit that the education system in Nunavut is badly broken and cannot be fixed with a band aid approach. In the last several years I have heard principals, superintendents, directors and MLA’s state that Nunavut schools are as good as any school in Canada, which is an outright lie or they live in a fantasy world 2) The parents would have to revolt and demand a better education system for their children. This would involve going to the media with hard facts and constantly demanding accountability for those who are responsible for their children’s education. Change is possible here in Nunavut, but the Minister of Education would first have to admit that we are failing our students on all levels and parents would have to get involved in the education process.

  7. Posted by Old timer on

    My daughter going on 4th year but can’t do much now need to take a year off to try make money FAN is nothing just info for a house rent can’t eat nothing

  8. Posted by Northern Guy on

    I worked three jobs when I was in grad school and still had to take out student loans to make it through. Being poor and being a student go hand in hand so I am not sure what else can be done as the FANs program already provides significantly better benefits and supports than any other student loan program in the nation.

  9. Posted by Juutai on

    I’m an Inuk with a Masters degree in Education. It had to go to a special committee who requested an exception be made by the Deputy Minister of Education to have my post secondary recognized in the salary evaluation by the GN. It’s April, and a decision has not yet been reached on this case.

    What’s even the point of educating Inuit if the GN is just going to turn around and not recognize it?

    • Posted by 867 on

      Just like the 12 months it may take to get your driver’s licence renewed in Nunavut, patience is key.

      • Posted by Juutai on

        I waited. Made the appeal in February, they finally got back to me in April.

        They said no.

    • Posted by Pollyanna on

      It might depend if your masters degree is relevant to your position.

      • Posted by Juutai on

        The Master’s degree is in Education. My whole portfolio is about adjusting teaching strategies and resources to meet the cultural context and needs of Inuit students. It is very specifically relevant to teaching in Nunavut classrooms…

        They said it doesn’t count toward the salary evaluation.

    • Posted by Nunavut on

      There are clear policies for teacher placement on the pay grid. If you are a teacher, what is the issue?

    • Posted by Equity on

      As a smart commenter once said, “qualified teachers and staff such as janitors and SSA’s deserve the same pay and living conditions”, because… equity.

  10. Posted by Eleesaejee on

    – where are the 37 ‘ideas’ listed?
    – was the differences between other regions, especially the 3 territories, included?
    – comparisons will speak loudly but without it, anyone can write how we need more money, help, resources, etc.
    – under FANS Inuit get grants and non-Inuit have loans (some can be ‘paid off’ using their time in Nunavut but Inuit do not have to live in Nunavut)
    – was a review of FANS done, if money is the main reason to all 37 ideas?

  11. Posted by Josie Saila on

    I would like to apply

Comments are closed.