The Nunavut government needs to involve Inuit more in its Education Act overhaul: NTI

“This is a fundamental policy change that will affect many Inuit parents and Inuit children in Nunavut”

Aluki Kotierk, the president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., speaks during the the standing committee on legislation’s hearing on Bill 25, An Act to Amend the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

By Aluki Kotierk
President, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

For an Inuktitut version of this letter, see here.

Re: Education Minister David Joanasie’s letter to the editor on Bill 25

Minister Joanasie wrote a letter published by Nunatsiaq News on Nov. 25, 2019, referencing past exchanges between the Department of Education and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated on Bill 25, characterizing these exchanges as motivated by good faith and offering NTI ample opportunity to voice concerns.

The minister is of the view that inviting NTI to public meetings and allowing NTI to listen to the GN’s views at meetings is collaboration. It is not.

Inuit have the right under Article 32 of the Nunavut Agreement to participate in the development of social and cultural policies, and in the design of social and cultural programs and services, including their method of delivery. There is a fundamental difference.

Bill 25 proposes to amend the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act, setting out the policy and the method of delivery for the Inuit language of instruction. This is a fundamental policy change that will affect many Inuit parents and Inuit children in Nunavut. As such, Inuit have the right to participate in its development and design.

NTI was not provided the opportunity to participate in the development of the policy aspirations outlined in the legislative proposal for Bill 25. Not only is this contrary to the government obligations outlined in the Nunavut Agreement, experience demonstrates that past partnerships led to the passing of legislation that better incorporated Inuit goals and objectives.

NTI has in the past co-developed legislation with the Government of Nunavut, such as the Inuit Language Protection Act, the Official Languages Act and the Wildlife Act. Knowing it can be done, NTI reached out to the premier and the ministers on Jan. 8, 2018, conveying NTI’s willingness to constructively work with the newly elected government in active partnership and collaboration on Inuit priorities, including on education, language and culture.

The Department of Education did not provide its legislative proposal to NTI until Aug. 31, 2018, when the department provided its list of planned community consultations. This left NTI less than a week to analyse Bill 25 and prepare and plan for the Nunavut consultation tour. This is not collaboration.

The department hosted the consultations with a narrow scope, and did not make any attempts to significantly address or accommodate concerns raised by Inuit, NTI and other organizations such as the district education authorities and the Coalition of Nunavut District Education Authorities, who also attended.

I remind the minister of education again that the Nunavut Agreement clearly outlines the obligations to fulfil Article 32, and that the Department must act purposively, with due diligence and uphold honour of the Crown when it collaborates with Inuit.

NTI believes that rewriting of the Education Act in fulfilment of Inuit participation obligations requires a fundamental change in the department’s approach, and full recognition of Inuit rights.

Aluki Kotierk
President, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by Reality Check on

    I agree with you that what the GN does is not consultation, no matter what label they put on it.

    That said, the Minister of Education is an Inuk. So is the Premier. In fact, all Cabinet Ministers are Inuit.

    The proposed Education Act, for all its flaws, is the product of direction given by the Cabinet.

    To say that Inuit were not involved is untrue. If some southern consultant (or even a long term northerner of southern origins) had proposed this bill without direction of Cabinet, it would have gone nowhere.

    Aluki Kotierk, you used to be a senior GN bureaucrat. Surely you know that nothing moves forward without the support of the all-Inuit cabinet.
    The difference between GN and NTI is that NTI can ask for anything it can imagine. The GN is obligated to actually try to accomplish things and the voters can hold them accountable.

  2. Posted by Name withheld on

    I think the Legislation needs to shuffle cabinets again and put back Quassa to Education

    Maybe he will implement article 32 as he tried with article 23.

    These two Articles really need to be worked on as the GN isn’t following up with them

  3. Posted by Ransom on

    Just because Cabinet has Inuit doesn’t mean anything. They seem to have no clue about their obligations to the people people they serve. Paternal old minds continue to frame GN’s nonsense and irrelevant prospectus

  4. Posted by Nakasuk on

    If they want more Inuit consultation they should contact me. I have wanted to change arctic curriculum since i was a elementary student in Kinngait. Even then I realized that the school system was not going to help me succeed. I really wanted to be taught in Inuktitut from K-12, not just K-4 and they need to include more essay writing and advanced math from an early start. When I went from getting 95% in Kinngait to getting below 50% in Ontario a week apart, it reaffirmed my initial beliefs that Arctic curriculum was setting me and my fellow Kinngarmiut elementary and high school students to fail.

    I once read a quote that said something along the lines of:
    “If you want to destroy a nation, do not use military force. Destroy their education system so that their engineers build bridges that crumble and scientists make inventions that fail. You do not need a gun to kill a whole people, but an uneducated people kill their own”.

  5. Posted by Sorry on

    Sorry Nakasuk, they don’t want more Inuit consultation. They want consultation with the “right” Inuit. They not only want to be consulted, they want to say what should happen and for other people to “make it so”.

  6. Posted by Non-Sequitur on

    NTI has no specific right to be consulted or to craft legislation, under article 32 of the NLCA that was to be the mission of the Nunavut Social Development Council, which was scraped by NTI under Cathy Towtongie in 2002. Did NTI have the right to do this? They claimed they would use the monies allocated to the NSDC to perform their work, have they?

  7. Posted by Insider on

    If you think the GN is dysfunctional… Nti has been a gongshow for about a decade now, more so under Aluki than Cathy Towtongie. Lots of good people working there but they’re not being consulted. I wouldn’t let them in any meeting to craft legislation.

    • Posted by Another Insider on

      Yes, it is arguable that Nunavut Tunngavik is an even bigger gong show under Aluki now than it was under Cathy T. Especially when you look at some of the recent hires and who is in charge of certain departments.

      Having sat on working committees with some of them, I can definitely say they are people who should NOT be put in charge of writing legislation. (Some are nice people though.)

      On this issue however, NTI’s internal gong show may not matter.

      On the education Bill 25 file, NTI is clearly getting its policy work done through anonymous and not so anonymous consultants in southern Canada, which is what everyone else does anyway. So their disastrous staff are probably irrelevant.

  8. Posted by just a thought on

    Fulfill position’s with QUALIFIED teachers’s that can provide Academic lessons in classes NOT curriculum lesson’s that are relevant to students learning. This is a major issue across Nunavut especially small rural communities i.e. quality lessons taught in school’s is a failure. Students taught in classes should know basics How to READ and Write English or in Inuktitut, English grammar, Mathematics, History Lessons/ Social Studies, Biology, and Chemistry. These basic LESSON’s where students can have opportunity to enroll in POST-SECONDARY with confidence and independence. Students with Gr. 12 graduates given certificates in Nunavut still can barely read or write English including mathematics or general basics that could assists students to pursue further studies in post-secondary. What is percentage of student’s Enrolled in College or University?

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