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Members of the National Committee on Inuit Education (NCIE) met for the first time September 23-24, 2009 to discuss the process of creating a National Strategy on Inuit Education. The committee has a year to draft the strategy, aimed at eliminating the gap in Inuit educational outcomes and achieving educational success for Inuit comparable to all other Canadians.“With this process, we aim to define the solutions ourselves. We will transform the outcomes in our schools by working collaboratively and collectively, as Inuit have always done. It is about defining what we want and imagining our future,” said National Inuit Leader Mary Simon, chair of the NCIE. Inuit currently have the lowest graduation rates in Canada. Some 61 percent of Inuit aged 25 to 64 have not completed high school, compared with 23 percent of non-Aboriginal Canadians, according to Statistics Canada.”
Voices from the National Committee on Inuit Education
“Our tradition is oral history – a tradition so strong it didn’t have to be written down. Our parents and grandparents made sure those ways carried through generations. Today, we haven’t lost who we are, but our identity has been threatened. We have the power to make change. Schools rely on the written form of teaching but it doesn’t have to be written down to have meaning. We have to recapture our oral traditions.” —National Inuit Leader Mary Simon (chair).
“I don’t think I’d want to be a teacher because I’d be working all the time and I’d be stressed out. It’s not that attractive. If education is our priority, let’s give those people who are going to be our teachers some support.” —Jesse Mike, President of the National Inuit Youth Council “In the Northwest Territories, aboriginal students miss an average of one day a week of school. So, by the time they reach Grade 10, they’ve missed two years of school.” —Roy Erasmus, Assistant Deputy Minister Department of Education, Culture and Employment, Government of the Northwest Territories
“We’re trying to take back the control our grandparents lost. It’s not going to take a year. It’s probably going to take 10 years. We’re going to have to look at law, justice…. Parenting is an issue, but so is housing….” —Violet Ford, Vice-President, Inuit Circumpolar Council (Canada)
“Some kids skip school, but there are some students that attend school because school is a safe place to be. They get breakfast, it’s warm and no one is bawling them or berating them.” —Tim McNeil, Deputy Minister, Department of Education and Economic Development, Nunatsiavut Government
Members of the National Committee on Inuit Education
• Mary Simon, President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (chair)
• Chris Duschenes, Executive Director, Inuit Relations Secretariat, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
• Kathy Okpik, Deputy Minister, Department of Education, Government of Nunavut
• Natan Obed, Director of Social and Cultural Development, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
• George Berthe, Corporate Secretary, Makivik Corp.
• Mary Joanne Kauki, Vice-President, Kativik School Board (observer)
• Marian Fushell, Assistant Deputy Minister, Primary, Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Education, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador (observer)
• Tim McNeil, Deputy Minister, Department of Education and Economic Development, Nunatsiavut Government
• Roy Erasmus, Assistant Deputy Minister, Department of Education, Culture and Employment, Government of the Northwest Territories
• Lucy Kuptana, Executive Director, Community Development Division, Inuvialuit Regional Corp.
• Rhoda Innuksuk, President, Pauktuutit, Inuit Women of Canada
• Jesse Mike, President, National Inuit Youth Council
• Violet Ford, Vice-President, Inuit Circumpolar Council
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