Ottawa school board still seeking Inuktitut teachers

Ottawa-Carleton District School Board aiming to offer Indigenous language classes

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board won’t be able to offer Inuktitut language classes until qualified instructors are found, a spokesperson for the international and Indigenous languages program said. (Photo by Madalyn Howitt).

By Madalyn Howitt

Students at an Ottawa school board hoping to study Inuktitut as a second language will have to wait until instructors are found.

A spokesperson for the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board said they’re still looking for qualified instructors for Indigenous language classes.

“So far, we’ve made several attempts to get instructors to teach Inuktitut, Cree, and other Indigenous languages to elementary students, but we have not been successful in getting candidates available to teach,” said Nectaria Karagiozis, program officer for international and Indigenous languages at the board.

“We would love to explore these options for the students and the community and we are open to any leads that would assist us in this direction,” she said.

In September 2021, the Ontario Ministry of Education committed $23.96 million to expand Indigenous content and learning in the province’s curriculums.

Shannon Smith, a superintendent of instruction at the Ottawa board, told Nunatsiaq News in October 2021 the school board hoped to use some of that funding to offer Inuktitut and other Indigenous language courses in the 2022-2023 school year.

“It really is a matter of finding teachers and instructors for the programs,” she said.

The goal is to increase opportunities for students to connect with Indigenous language speakers, she added.

“Ottawa has a very high number of Inuit residents who are here for a variety of reasons and certainly within our schools, so that’s a clear area of focus for us,” Smith said.

In 2022, Statistics Canada reported 1,730 Inuit live in the Ottawa-Gatineau region.


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(16) Comments:

  1. Posted by Bob Lee on

    I am opposed to southerners learning Inuktitut language. Stick to your primitive language .

    • Posted by Lingua Franca on

      I’m not sure what makes you think our language is primitive, but it is quite successful. Over a billion people speak it and it is a bridge between many speakers of non-English who can’t understand each other, including Inuit whose dialects are not understandable to one other.

    • Posted by So Many Primitives to Choose From… on

      Hmmm, which particular ‘southerner’ language? There are so many to choose from – I presume that you mean English or French as my experience has been most in Nunavut only have experience with those ‘southern’ language groups.

    • Posted by Maq-Pat on

      I’m going to assume you just misspelled “primary”. In either case: no. Having multiple languages is a HUGE help for a child, and Inuktut is in very high demand.

    • Posted by John K on

      Our language is the primitive one, bud.

      If it had some more utility then maybe my grandparent’s would have taught me and it wouldn’t be on it’s way out.

      • Posted by Consistency on

        Inuktitut is not Primitive. As for the utility those that were lucky enough to have been taught it by family, friends, even the little that happens in the school, when using it everywhere all the time with everyone (even if they dont understand) it will become more used. Thats how we dont loose it.

  2. Posted by 867 on

    Nunavut can’t even get inuktitut teachers and the salary is way higher in Nunavut. what makes the OCDSB think they can hire inuktitut teachers?

    • Posted by Monica Connolly on

      A few unanswered questions arise:
      – what does Ottawa consider  “qualified”?
      – would teachers be expected to develop their own curriculum and course of study? Teachers in Ontario normally have the general curriculum provided by the province and the specific course of study provided by the school.
      – would the job be full-time?
      – can course materials be easily acquired?
      – whether you’re in Ottawa or Iglulik, there will be numerous adults, especially elders, in the community who have a great deal to offer Inuktitut classes, in both language and other aspects of culture, but who are not interested in full-time teaching work; will there be funds to allow them to visit classes and advise teachers on course content?

    • Posted by John K on

      It’s always easier to hire in the south regardless of salary.

      It’s easy to wonder if the extra $40,000 a year is worth having no access and missing everything.

  3. Posted by Going to need a lot of subs on

    Hire subs now. Going to need them badly for these teachers

    • Posted by John K on

      The subs will be teaching more than the teachers. Just like here.

        • Posted by John K on

          Iqaluit born; southern raised.

          I don’t know why my parent’s ever brought us back here. As soon as I have extracted enough value from the territory to start a life elsewhere we’re out of here. I owe my kids more opportunity than I was offered by coming back here.

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