Nunavut Arctic College is breathing new life into its early childhood education programming.
More than 70 students from around Nunavut are now registered for credit courses and the college plans to launch a two-year diploma program by next September, using federal funding.
That’s despite the fact that daycare workers in Nunavut are only required to have first aid as well as CPR, where available.
Nunavut inherited its Childcare Act from the Northwest Territories. The N.W.T. has since updated its regulations, but Nunavut has not.
Ellen Hamilton is the Manager of Early Childhood Education Programs at the college.
She’s aware that Nunavut is lagging behind when it comes to training childcare workers and says this is a step forward.
“The young children in our territory are our most important resource so let's show some support in building a good network and support for them," Hamilton says.
Daycare waiting lists are long in Nunavut, and there’s a shortage of staff and facilities.
The College now offers a certificate program that includes modules on health and safety as well as nutrition.
The course includes a new module on Inuit child rearing, which began Monday in Iqaluit and in other communities. The two-week course focuses on using traditional Inuit methods of parenting and raising children in their first five years.
Anniesie Meeko is a student in the program
“We usually get to learn in English and English is good,” Meeko says, “but I want my son to speak in Inuktitut because it's part of our culture.”
And Hamilton agrees.
“All the research around the world points to the fact that it's very, very important for children to learn from within their culture and their language.
“They are the ones that are going to be there for us when we all get older and we need them to build a strong society, so the more of us that learn healthy and safe ways we can support our young children in our communities, the better."
Tuition in the two-week long course is free, and training allowances are available for students.