Media Centre

NTI cautions against loss of momentum on education reform

NR 03-07 EDU ENG Education Act.doc

(MARCH 26, 2003 — Iqaluit, Nunavut) Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated today set out its concerns about the decision of the Legislative Assembly to not adopt Bill 1, the Education Act.

Inuit have made clear their desire for an education system that reflects their culture, priorities and aspirations, said NTI President Cathy Towtongie. Now that the Minister of Education has withdrawn the legislation, it is absolutely essential that the government pursue other means to achieve improvements in the education system.

Bill 1 was first introduced into the Legislature in 1999. The subsequent consultation process included a working group formed by the Government of Nunavut, the Nunavut Social Development Council, and the three Regional Inuit Associations.

The effort to reform the system is too important to stop now, Towtongie said. NTI would like to see the collaborative approach used by the Department of Education continue. We believe new programs, policy changes and amendments to the existing legislation are all valid ways of establishing a made-in-Nunavut education system.

In its earlier submission to the Standing Committee on Health and Education, NTI had called for Inuktitut / Inuinnaqtun to be made the primary language of instruction. Said Towtongie: We were quite encouraged by the willingness of the Department of Education to revise Bill 1. The final draft provided for an increase of Inuit tradition and culture in the curriculum as well as a time frame for implementing Inuktitut / Inuinnaqtun as the primary language of instruction. We don’t want to see these advances lost.

Article 32 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement provides for the participation of Inuit in government policy making that affects social development. NTI and the Regional Inuit Associations have formed a working group to give effect to this provision. NTI believes education reform would be best achieved by the Department of Education working with Inuit organizations, said Towtongie.

For further information:

Nancy Campbell
Director of Communications
Tel: (867) 975-4900
Fax: (867) 975-4943 Jackie Simms
Director of Social & Cultural Development