Nunavik’s schools are open, but school board faces staffing shortages

“It’s something we haven’t experienced before. We’re preparing as we go”

Kativik Ilisarniliriniq’s head office in Kuujjuaq. The Association of Employees of Northern Quebec, which represents Nunavik teachers and support staff, said its members showed overwhelmingly support for a strike mandate during a Wednesday vote. (File photo by Sarah Rogers)

By Sarah Rogers

Starting next week, all of Nunavik’s elementary and secondary schools will have opened their doors to students.

Kativik Ilisarniliriniq’s 17 schools saw staggered openings through the month of September, as Nunavik students returned to class for the first time since March.

Isummasaqvik school in Quaqtaq will be the last school in the region to open its doors next week, delayed by construction work to replace the building’s heating systems this past summer.

But staffing shortages continue to hamper some school operations and have since forced another school to close. Tukisiniarvik school in Akulivik initially opened and then closed on Sept. 25, when the school couldn’t secure enough teachers, janitors, bus drivers and other support staff.

“We haven’t finished recruiting yet,” said Kativik Ilisarniliriniq Director General Harriet Keleutak. “We’ve reached out to the [Akulivik] mayor to see how the Northern Village can help out.”

“And we really need janitors—that’s been our biggest challenge,” she said. “If the schools are not clean, we close them.”

As of the beginning of October, the KI has nine vacant teaching positions, nine vacant Inuktitut-teaching positions and a number of vacant essential positions, such as janitors, secretaries or bus drivers, “in almost every community,” Keleutak said.

Job openings are posted locally and interested applicants can inquire at schools for more information, she said.

More important, Keleutak said Nunavik’s schools have no active COVID-19 cases. She said the school year has progressed smoothly so far, as staff and students adapt to new measures.

“It’s something we haven’t experienced before,” Keleutak said. “We’re preparing as we go.”

All students are required to wear masks indoors in common areas of the school, as well as in any space where students and staff can’t keep a two-metre distance from each other.

While many other school boards offer a virtual learning option for students, KI is still working out details of how to deliver that, if needed.

Only one student in the entire region is studying from home—with support from KI—due to a medical condition.

The school board is in the process of surveying Nunavik families to determine which households have access to a computer or internet, should the need arise for an entire school community to move to an online model.

That’s another challenge, Keleutak said, because most Nunavik households wouldn’t have enough devices for all school-aged children in a given home to use during the day.

The school board has started to purchase computers for some of its secondary and post-secondary students, and plans to deliver online-specific teacher training in the weeks to come.

“We’re in the process of trying to adapt,” Keleutak said. “Stay patient.”

KI’s Adult Education offering programs via Moodle this year

Another KI sector has successfully moved its learning online, with the launch last week of Moodle for its adult education programs.

The online platform, used at a number of post-secondary institutions across the country, allows students to access documents and interact with students and instructors. Students enrolled in any of KI’s six adult education centres are provided with a laptop.

Moodle also offers a feature that allows students to download their courses at those centres, so curriculum can be accessed at home, offline, with the addition of teacher support by phone.

“Nunavimmiut who register in general education courses often choose the adult sector because they are juggling work and family obligations,” said Mamadou Diop, KI’s interim director of adult education and vocational training.

“They need flexibility in terms of when they can do their learning. Moodle is going to make a big difference in helping them reach their goals.”

You can apply for adult education programs here.

Share This Story

(2) Comments:

  1. Posted by Seen it coming on

    This whole scenario has its ethology deeper then the school board realizes. It’s the manifestation of the breakdown of Nunavik society. Teachers from elsewhere in the country don’t want to go to Nunavik . There are literally no local teachers educated to teach, any language. This all because of the spiral downward of the society. The alcohol, the drug abuse. The child abuse. The suicides, the Homicides, in such a small population. There’s no insight to these issues. It’s getting worse by the day. The business sector and most organizations, municipal are crippled by employees not showing up to work in the morning. Everything the KI is talking about, with shortage of staff, is mirrored in every organization. The mayors are on air continuously trying to get workers for sewage and water delivery. It’s one big mess that’s not getting any attention. The gas station at Co-op in kuujjuaq is rarely open, yet beer and wine sales are still seeing line ups. I’m a believer in that this Nunavik Society will be near collapse, and a state of emergency will be declared in near future, not just because of suicides, but because the total dysfunction of life.

  2. Posted by Crisis on

    This is no ordinary shortage of staff, as would be seen in most cases. This is real concerning. There we are with years and years of wasted effort and money. Now it’s our children turn to suffer, and start the cycle of getting absolutely nowhere in our education. The children we see today will take the place of the present uneducated Leaders at KI, and start a new generation of uneducated residents. It’s getting worse. More efforts are put into local elected members of education committees then anything else in the system. Education committees who only add to the already mess that we have. Those on the education committees, most of which never finished school! And have interest only in the stipend that goes with each meeting. It’s beyond terrible.

Comments are closed.