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Issue #29
April, 2012

Inuit Early Childhood Education and Care: Present Successes – Promising Directions

Source: Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK)

Summary: This paper examines the issues surrounding Inuit Early Childhood Education (ECE), specifically:

  • Identifying and documenting examples of successful Inuit early childhood initiatives, which have contributed to the ability of Inuit children overcoming barriers and succeeding in school.
  • Identifying gaps in Inuit ECE programming.
  • Recommending a list of policy considerations related to Inuit Early Childhood Education and Care (IECEC).

The paper cites a number of international trends in early childhood education and care, which could provide policy considerations for Inuit in ECEC programming.

A number of the national and international trends in ECEC programming can be seen in their early form of application across a range of success stories in the four Inuit regions. The paper looks in detail at: 1) language nests in Nunatsiavut, 2) trained staff, 3) provincial/regional funding arrangements in Nunavik, 4) Nunavik nutrition program, 5) school readiness programming in Clyde River, 6) culturally grounded services in Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, and 7) the Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre.

The paper also examines persistent gaps in programming including fragmented and inadequate funding mechanisms, which has hindered the development of childcare in some regions. Low salaries and poor educational standards for Early Childhood Educators has also impacted quality, particularly where there are no regulations to establish minimum training requirements for early childhood educators. The paper examines two other important gaps relating to parental involvement in program design and cultural/linguistic accessibility.

The document concludes with a set of policy considerations that fall into six main areas:

  • Integrated funding
  • Recognizing the Early Childhood teacher
  • Integrating Elder input and participation in all aspects of Inuit ECEC
  • Accessing the voice and direction of Parents, Elders, and Educators in all aspects of ECE
  • Integrated Services at ECE hubs
  • Development of an ECE Curriculum, supports and resources

Monograph #11 – Integrating Aboriginal Teaching and Values into the Classroom

Source: Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat – Ontario Ministry of Education, Pamela Rose Toulouse, Ph. D, Laurentian University
Focus: Teachers and researchers

Summary: A new body of research is beginning to demonstrate that Aboriginal students’

self-esteem is a key factor in their school success. An educational environment that honours the culture, language and world view of the Aboriginal student is critical. Schools need to meaningfully represent and include Aboriginal peoples’ contributions, innovations and inventions. Aboriginal students require a learning environment that honours who they are and where they have come from. These strategies nurture the self-esteem – the positive interconnection between the physical, emotional-mental, intellectual and spiritual realms – of Aboriginal students.

Valuing the Aboriginal Learner: Seven Living Principles

This monograph explores the relationship between Aboriginal students’ self-esteem and educational attainment. The key questions that guide this discussion are:

  1. What strategies currently work for Aboriginal students, and why are they so important for creating meaningful change?
  2. What are the day-to-day implications for educators endeavouring to ensure Aboriginal student needs are met?

Project Naming

Source: Library and Archives Canada
Focus: Secondary Education

Summary: The goal of this project is the identification of Inuit portrayed in some of the photographic collections of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in Ottawa. It is an ongoing initiative, which enables Nunavut youth to connect with Elders and to better understand their past. It also helps to bridge the cultural differences and geographical distances between Nunavut and the more southern parts of Canada.

Project Naming is a collaborative effort among Nunavut Sivuniksavut, which offers a special college program based in Ottawa, serving Inuit youth from Nunavut; Nunavut’s Department of Culture, Languages, Elders and Youth (CLEY); and LAC.

As a tribute to the importance of language in Project Naming, this Web exhibition is available in Inuktitut, English and French. To view Project Naming in Inuktitut, you will need a Pigiarniq font. This font can be downloaded for free in either PC or Mac fonts at:

  • The voices from Nunavut section includes written and audio material that provides personal accounts by Nunavut Elders and youth about the project.
  • The Inuktitut language section provides a history on the development of syllabics.
  • An overview of the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) photographic collections included in this project is available by visiting the photo collections section.
  • Visit the search the database section to access all images scanned for Project Naming. The database therein includes photographs of people who have been identified as a result of this project, as well as others in which the individuals are still unnamed. This section also highlights a selection of photographs of newly identified subjects, whose communities have been located on the map of Nunavut. To date, the names of hundreds of people have been remembered by Nunavut Elders, and work continues on the identification of still more.
  • The naming continues section features selected images for which names are still missing, and invites users to submit information relevant to the photographs.
  • Project activities provides a description of some of the highlights and activities of Project Naming since the exhibition was first launched in October 2004.
  • Further research includes selected references to books, articles, theses, films and videos, and related websites.

Canadian Studies Project 2 Focus on Citizenship, Multiculturalism, Aboriginal Peoples and Diversity – Storytelling: The Art of Knowledge

Source: Museum of Civilization
Focus: Grades 7-12

Summary: The philosophical foundation of an Aboriginal worldview is readily found in the oral literary tradition of the Storyteller. This set of lessons is designed to introduce students to the concept of how First Nations people transmitted cultural expectations through the use of storytelling. The lessons will emphasize the First Nations oral tradition and how legends, myths and stories were used to pass down the traditions, the knowledge, the attitudes, values and beliefs. The students will develop an understanding of how the storytelling method was used to explain, to teach, and to entertain. The students will explore the cultural ties and differences among Aboriginal nations.

In addition attention will be paid to the development of literacy skills as outlined in the Ontario Ministry of Education document, Think Literacy (a cross curricular document for grades 7-12).

Using First Nations Literature in the Classroom

Source: Online Learning Centre: Saskatoon Public Schools
Focus: Grades 7 & 8

Summary: This unit consists of four sections. Each section begins with a chart that summarizes the objectives that will be covered in that particular section as well as what types of activities will be used to achieve the listed objectives. Following the summary chart, you will find a description of the activity, samples of how charts (templates) are to be completed and links to any templates.

In the bibliography/references section there is a list of children’s literature to help you select the literature required for the unit.

This unit contains activities for several subject areas including Language Arts, Social Studies, Dance, and Drama. It begins with an introduction to oral tradition, storytelling, and First Nations cultural areas. Students will learn how geographic location influences the evolution of the various First Nations cultures and they will be required to differentiate between the different types of First Nations mythology. The students will also be required to examine the literature to find information about First Nations beliefs, values, customs, and ways of life. Following that, students will identify common themes found in the First Nations literature, using drama and dance to gain a deeper understanding of the First Nations way of life.

The students will also learn what types of characteristics make stories ideal for retelling or reading aloud. They will select their own stories to retell to their classmates. They will also examine original and adapted versions of the same tale to warm them up for an authentication project. The final section, authenticating folklore, will teach students about the important role that good research plays in communicating accurate cultural information. It will also encourage students to pay attention to the intricate details in the literature.

Sprouts Day Camp – Iqualuit, Nunavut – INAC

Source: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

Summary: Using traditional Inuit practices to engage children in the learning of science, the Sprouts Day Camp in Iqaluit, Nunavut has been changing the lives of youths aged 7-15 for over 10 years.

For centuries, Inuit families have moved through the tundra with the seasons developing a unique culture and way of life.

Today, this small, remote hamlet on the southwest tip of Baffin Island in Nunavut is Canada’s newest capital city – home to almost 7,000 people.

The QIA’s Youth Department has thrived, developing and delivering successful programs that promote education, cultural awareness and healthy lifestyles.

It has welcomed partnerships that enrich the experiences it provides to its children.

The Sprouts Day Camp is a model program providing care, fun and education for Iqaluit’s children throughout the summer.

The Sprouts Program started about 11 years ago and it was very small, it was five or six kids, and now we have nine full-time staff, we have a full- time cook. We have partners like Actua, who do, you know, amazing rich programming, other community partners and it’s just really grown and flourished, and really blossomed as a program and it’s become kind of a mainstay in Iqaluit.

Actua, a national charity, delivers a series of week-long summer day camps, through its Aboriginal Outreach Program that engage youth in unique, innovative, and culturally relevant science, engineering and technology activities.

With the huge mineral, oil and gas potential of Nunavut, developing capacity in Science and Technology is critica so that Nunavumiut can fully participate in Nunavut’s development and it all starts with the children.

The main goal of the program is to expose youth to possibilities that exist for them, to bring Science and Technology into their lives so that they understand that there are many opportunities for them down the road to further their studies, to further their career opportunities.

A full curriculum of fun hands-on science activity awaits the children each day.

They learn how arctic mammals keep warm through the insulation properties of blubber by making blubber mitts from household lard and immersing their hands in freezing water.

They explore the properties of sound and discover how a Beluga whale hears, by making their own Beluga ears using spoons and string.

Traditional Inuit throat singing, coupled with an oscilloscope helps explain sound waves and the kids see how their own voices create vibrations.

An outdoor scavenger hunt and hike employing GPS technology is the perfect springboard for a discussion about the inuksuk used by many generations of Inuit for guidance and orientation on the land.

An important component of Actua’s camp delivery is the inclusion of graduates, as instructors, from the Nunavut Sivuniksavut Program (NS).

Based in Ottawa, the NS is an eight-month college program for Inuit youth from Nunavut to prepare for educational and career opportunities that are being created through the new government of Nunavut.

First Nations History – Government of Saskatchewan

Source: Government of Saskatchewan- First Nations and Métis Relations

Summary: This site provides a brief history of First Nations people under the following categories:

  1. European Contact
  2. The Fur Trade
  3. The Royal Proclamation & the British North America Act
  4. The Treaties
  5. The Indian Act
  6. Reserves
  7. The Pass System
  8. The Permit System
  9. Residential Schools
  10. Control of Indian Education
  11. The White Paper
  12. Bill C-31
  13. Treaty Land Entitlement
  14. Constitutional Events
    Major Constitutional events affecting Aboriginal people in Canada, including the 1982 Constitution, the Meech Lake Accord, and the Charlottetown Accord.
  15. Related Reading

A list of books and articles suggested for further reading on Aboriginal issues in Saskatchewan and Canada.

First Nations Spirituality

Source: Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs and the Elders Advisory Committee

Summary: The “Planting the Seed Series” is sharing and teaching about First Nation culture. The tree represents a symbol of life and began as a seed. As the seed gets nourished the more it will flourish. Like the tree of life, a person will also flourish when cultural nourishment is given. It helps to grow the individual, family, community and nation. The sharing of this information helps to plant the seed that leads to a life long journey of learning. Sharing – The First Nation Way.

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