New course explains Nunavut to high school kids
IQALUIT — A course designed to teach Grade 9 students about the creation of Nunavut was unveiled in Iqaluit recently.
“There are so few resources, especially for new teachers,” said Nick Newbery, an Iqaluit teacher and the author of the six to eight week course that teaches students about the history of Nunavut, the beginning of the land claim process, and what the Nunavut land claims agreement means.
Newbery, who has been teaching in Nunavut for years, said he thinks the course can be especially helpful for newcomers to the territory who have taken on teaching positions and are faced with the task of learning about the history Nunavut themselves before they are able to teach it.
“The trouble with education in Nunavut is it’s wide open. I mean it’s terrific, you’re not tied down, but it also means an awful lot of work,” Newbery said. He said that the course is an outgrowth of his teaching social studies to students over the years.
“We felt if we could write it and produce it we could save an awful lot of time,” said Newbery.
Newbery approached the assistant deputy minister of education, Naullaq Arnaquq, and asked her if he could develop the course.
After getting her approval and $10,000 in financial assistance from the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation, Newbery was able to put together the course, which draws on three documentary films, the land claim agreement itself, information from the “Footprints” documents prepared by the Nunavut Implementation Commission, and many other sources.
At an unveiling ceremony in Newbery’s Grade 9 alternative class this week, Education Minister James Arvaluk praised Newbery.
“This is an important step,” Arvaluk said, adding that his department is developing a made-in-Nunavut curriculum for all grade levels.
When speaking to Newbery’s class, Arvaluk related a story he heard as a youngster from an elder working at the mine in Rankin who was denied holidays to go on a trip.
Arvaluk told the class the elder bought his own boat and went on the trip anyway.
“He said ëI will walk between these tight blocks you have set up for me,'” said Arvaluk, and he told the students that he hoped they too would persevere and find a way to achieve their goals in life.
He said that learning about the land claim and Nunavut would help them to do that.
“Hopefully this will help them to be able to understand what possibilities there are for them through the land claim,” said Jerry Ell, QC’s president.
He said he hopes the course would also teach the children that they need to stay in school to take advantage of the opportunities made possible by the creation of Nunavut.