The Kativik School Board in northern Quebec is not offering teachers at a school in Puvirnituq enough support to deal with the violence they are facing in their classrooms, educators in the Inuit community say.
Like many other teachers at Iguarsivik Primary School, former Montrealer Pierre-Luc Bélisle said he was looking forward to the adventure of teaching in the North.
Bélisle said he knew it would be a difficult assignment. He was aware of the high crime rate and history of drug and alcohol abuse in Puvirnituq, located 1,633 kilometres northwest of Montreal.
But, he said, he was shocked by what he called the out-of-control violence at Iguarsivik.
For the past week, Bélisle said he has been on paid disability leave because a student punched him in the chest.
Another teacher, who spoke to CBC News on condition of anonymity, said she had witnessed two or three students "completely tearing the class down, throwing desks [and] chairs at [me]."
The violent students rarely face consequences, said the woman, who has been teaching for nine years.
"Right now, there is no psychologist, there is no student counsellor at our school, so we feel that the students are a little bit left alone," she said.
The teachers said the constant change in staff doesn't help the situation.
This year alone, there were 11 new teachers at the school.
The Kativik School Board could not be reached for comment, but in a written response published in the Journal de Montreal newspaper, officials said the board takes violence seriously and reacts quickly to each incident.
The board said more experienced teachers generally feel more secure in their classes, officials said.
Both teachers said they do not regret their decision to work in Puvirnituq but that they would be returning to Montreal at the end of the school year.