“It should be in the Education Act”
While the debates on Bill 1 centred mainly on what the standing committee, the department of education, and various organizations with an interest in education had to say, many ordinary people also contributed to the discussion.
This week, the standing committee released the thick stack of written submissions it received over the course of its examination of the bill. There are, of course, letters from the major organizations, but there are also letters in handwritten syllabics, and the slanty scrawl of high school students.
Here’s what a cross-section of Nunavummiut had to say:
• “We as parents and the public expect our children to attend school, have part-time jobs and spend time with friends, but we need to make sure they have a good eight hours sleep,” said Eva Qirniq Noah, an instructor in the Nunavut Teacher Education Program in Iqaluit. “Shut off the cable company TV hours from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.”
• “I would like to see our education be delivered in Inuktitut. I am always disappointed when I read the Canadian Charter of Rights. Canada still totally disregards natives of this land, and it shows that we are still in the process of assimilation,” said Iqaluit resident Lena Ellsworth.
“Tests have shown that through the current curriculum, we are way below the rest of Canada in all areas. Inferior education ensures that the roles and society do not change. We’re continually being set up to fail. If our organizations and government do not have any respect for local languages, why should anyone else?”
• “The Inuktitut subjects should be taught longer than the English subjects,” said Colin Qamaniq, a student in Pond Inlet. “Like, for example, more devotion should be given to Inuktitut programming. If we don’t at least focus more on it we will loose (sic) our language. Nowadays, our schools are teaching more in English than Inuktitut. Some non-native teacher (sic) don’t like us to speak in Inuktitut. If we allow the students to speak in Inuktitut language we could enhance it more.”
• “They should have harder subjects, they should also be tested for the level of their knowledge by encouraging the students to work harder,” said a student identified only as Inuktitut Grade 12. “The current status should not be changed. This part seems to be working, so I am not too overly concerned about it.”
• “Students need to learn valuable skills outside of the classroom,” said a submission by Grade 9 to 12 students at Qarmartalik School in Resolute Bay. “I honestly think there should be a course in school where the students are frequently brought out on the land to learn hunting skills, survival skills and navigational skills. Some students already have great hunting skills but continually fail in class. When these students go out on the land I think it raises their self-esteem and their pride. So I highly recommend that hunting should be a course in school. Some of us don’t get a chance to learn these skills because of school. It should be in the Education Act.