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Inuit education breaking the family circle

The Story

In an open-forum discussion, Inuit and non-Inuit participants are debating the education system in the North, and how it's failing Inuit students. A young Inuit speaker says he learned little more than how to "dress up and comb my hair," and after returning to his settlement there was no way to apply any of his knowledge, useful or not. A lack of continuity is the problem, and it's leaving Inuit students in limbo, somewhere between their families and the Canadian mainstream. While the shortcomings of the education system are explored in this radio segment, opposition is heard from non-Inuit speakers who are adamant that Inuit families face no greater challenges than other Canadians.

Medium: Radio
Program: Talk-in
Broadcast Date: March 14, 1969
Host: Alan Maitland
Reporter: Bob Rhodes
Duration: 9:34

Did You know?

• To accommodate the children of widely dispersed settlements in the Northwest Territories, students would attend hostels miles from their home for 10 months each year. In the past, the family had been an indestructible unit of interdependence and traditional teachings. This modern style of education bore no resemblance to the traditional way of the Inuit, and the culture shock reverberated through the generations.

• The Kativik School Board was created in 1978 for the Inuit population of Nunavik in northern Quebec. At the time of its inception, only an elementary education was available in cramped community schools. Today, kindergarten through secondary school is offered in every community, and program development is ongoing in English, French and Inuktitut. Students have the option of studying in English or French and study Inuit culture and language (Inuktitut) throughout their schooling.

• In the 1970s the federal office of First Nations and Inuit Education was created. Its mandate was to provide community-based teacher education for Indigenous teachers and meet the growing need for Inuktitut-speaking teachers in its elementary classrooms. The Kativik School Board organized a certificate program called the McGill Certificate of Native and Northern Education. Graduates can teach at the elementary level in Indigenous schools.


An Inuit Education: Honouring a Past, Creating a Future more