Teacher education program expanded to more Nunavut communities

More post-secondary students will be able to study in their hometowns starting this September, says education minister

In September, Nunavut Arctic College will begin offering its teacher education program in 10 new communities in the territory, adding to the 10 already offering the program, said Education minister Pamela Gross earlier this month. (File photo/NAC)

By Madalyn Howitt

More post-secondary students across Nunavut will soon have the chance to earn part of the bachelor of education degree without leaving their home communities.

Earlier this month, territorial Education Minister Pamela Gross announced that starting in September, Nunavut Arctic College will begin offering the first year of its teacher education program in Arctic Bay, Chesterfield Inlet, Kinngait, Kugluktuk, Kugaaruk, Pond Inlet, Qikiqtarjuaq, Sanirajak, Taloyoak and Whale Cove.

This is in addition to 10 communities already offering the first two years of the five-year program: Arviat, Baker Lake, Cambridge Bay, Coral Harbour, Gjoa Haven, Igloolik, Iqaluit, Naujaat, Pangnirtung and Rankin Inlet.

Students enrolled in the program get the first two years of instruction through Nunavut Arctic College, then continue their remaining three years at Memorial University in Newfoundland to earn a bachelor’s degree in education.

Offering the program in more Nunavut communities will help more students commit to their studies and alleviate the challenges of moving away for school, said Peesee Pitsiulak, dean of education, Inuit and university studies at Nunavut Arctic College.

“Housing has always been an issue, and people are holding on to their homes and do not want to lose their homes while they’re away at school,” she said. “So [students] will have a lot more chances to enter the program in their home community.”

In 2021, the program was also restructured to offer the first two years at the college entirely in Inuktut, part of a wider effort to strengthen the use of Inuit languages in the territory.

“I believe bilingual education [is] the ultimate goal for our teachers, to be able to teach in either language,” she said.

“A lot of the courses in year one and two are courses that were already taught in the program before, but we added more [Inuktut] courses so that our graduates will be able to have a lot more knowledge and experience in a new language and culture to teach.”

It also means students have the option to leave after two years and become language teachers in schools, earning a diploma from the college in Inuit language and culture, Pitsiulak said.

“I think with a new program where the first two years are on Inuit language and culture, our students will be able to have more confidence teaching their culture or their language instead of having had sporadic language courses over the four-year program in the past,” she said.

The program also offers an immersion stream for students who don’t speak Inuktut as a first language, to help them catch up to the language requirements, she added.

“The territory is always in need of teachers, as we all know, and this should be able to help in that situation — our graduates are more likely to stay in their home territory and not leave after a couple of years.”


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(12) Comments:

  1. Posted by Big things on

    Can’t wait to hear about how successful these expansions are after year 1 is completed. Where are these bilingual teachers coming from? Do they have any credentials? Will these classes just end up being glorified sewing classes?

    A 5-year bachelor’s degree takes a significant amount of dedication and discipline. While I hope this program shows some level of success. This could truly be a make or break situation for Nunavut. I also hope Nunatsiaq News follows up after a year to see what has come of this. Will it be staff shortages and poor attendence or will it be a whole new generation of educated teachers?

    • Posted by Mass Formation on

      Are we being tricked? To believe Nunavut will have trained teachers in 5 years, complete with a bachelor’s degree in education. When in reality it will be a 2 year diploma in Inuit language and culture.

      The Dean notes. Few students won’t continue their education in the south as they may have no house to return to. And how many students will be confidant to attend Memorial University in Newfoundland, having no English teaching over the past 2 years?

      What grades will the 2 year diploma Inuit language and culture taught students be qualified to teach? Is Nunavut Lowering or raising education standards in Nunavut?

      • Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

        Did you do any research on the issue or are you trying to put a negative slant on everything NAC does?

        The 2-year program offers a diploma program that gives the teacher the opportunity to teach at the primary and elementary levels.

        For those of you who are always negative about what we have for education do some research (you learn that at school as well)

        The Minister and NAC are trying to respond to the issues around bilingual education. Instead of dismissing it, perhaps some of you could join them and help our children with your expertise.

        • Posted by Ironic, isn’t it? on

          For a guy who is outspokenly negative and complains about EVERYTHING in life, it’s funny to see you whining about people complaining about NAC. Apparently, negativity is only permitted if it’s coming from you, I guess.

          Someone else is just choosing to walk a mile in your clown shoes for a change. It sucks, doesn’t it?

  2. Posted by Ian on

    NN, come on is that not what MLAs are for

  3. Posted by NTEP student. on

    Well, as a student. I can confirm NTEP Departement are already struggling TREMENDOUSLY with consisency, lack of structure, lack of communication, lack of support(inuktitut tutor), keeping qualify their Inuktitut instructors, etc.
    For emergent streamers, they have been complaining since the beginning of the year that they are struggling with the expectation with their Inuktut understanding. Example: giving thenm a transcription course without even understand the basic grammar, chunk words, prefixes, suffixes,etc. How are they supposed to excel if they don’t even comprehend the basic stucture of Inuktitut? How serious they are on the revitalization of the language if they can’t even support the few students in Iqaluit.
    I understand the pandemic and the fact that they change their teaching program curriculum with MUN so their is a lot of adjustments to do. But it’s not “news” are a bit all over the place according to last year NTEP students.

    My concern is how they expect to expand to all those communities if their core structure is out of place? How sustainable is going to be?

    What about collaborating with Pirurvik and work on a linguistic curriculum with NTEP and create a plan that will last that all instructors could follow?

    Im not saying it’s all bad, we are still learning Inuit studies but the linguistic part needs to be reviewed if we want to have Nunavut teachers with a strong foundation of the dialect that could help the futur of Nunavut and the revitalization of the language.

  4. Posted by Anne on

    Excellent, very glad to hear! I can think of many talented, bilingual, deeply-connected teachers in many of these communities who can help to lead a new generation of Nunavut teachers! I do wish there was more funding for teacher candidates, even in their home communities. The number of people who stop early due to financial difficulty is disheartening.

  5. Posted by Past teacher on

    This program needs revisions and needs to be updated, changes made and improvements to this program.
    The way it is set up currently is set up to fail in the long run.
    Major review needed.

  6. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Just another brick in the wall that is creating a two-tiered education system in Nunavut, NTEP is a program that creates under-qualified and out of their depth teachers who then go on to teach students who will have no hope of ever getting into a university program outside the Territory.

    • Posted by Ned Flanders on

      True word. 😞

    • Posted by Community Member on

      The College Leadership makes claims it can’t uphold.

      The college leadership has no idea what happens in small communities and when they’re told by teachers and community members in those small communities, college leaders don’t listen.

      The college can’t figure out how to operate. They can start by listening and being realistic… Even if it’s not what the MLA wants to hear.

      As for Inuktitut being the language of instruction for the first two years: In some communities that will work for developing primary school language instructors, good. But in communities where most members speak English, it’s another barrier to entry.

      Rethink it NAC and get real.

  7. Posted by Shelf-life on

    Wasn’t there a review of this done in the last few years? Apparently it was rife with shortcomings, flaws, and given an extremely inefficient stamp. Then one of the School Operations (Qikiqtani) buried it and pretended it did not exist. It was one of the last things that the Teachers’ Union ever did worth talking about!

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