Education as Reconciliation: Resorting Inuit Nunangat

Jay McKechnie


Education is stated as the number one priority of the Government of Nunavut’s Sivumiut Abluqta mandate. TheNunavut education system is seen by many as failing to provide Inuit with the promise of supporting Inuit economicand social well-being. Today in Nunavut, there is a growing awareness of the effects of past colonialist polices andthe need for individual and group healing. However, within the current education reforms, there is little discoursethat reflects this colonialist history and how it continues to shape education in Nunavut.This paper seeks to answer the following questions: How did the transition from an autonomous lifestyle on the land,to a dependent lifestyle in communities, affect Inuit society? How are the intergenerational affects of this transitionmanifested in the classrooms of Nunavut? How can the education system facilitate a public discourse that supportshealing and reconciliation?As a high school social studies teacher in Nunavut, I am primarily interested in addressing the role of Qallunaat(non-Inuit) teachers working in Nunavut. As part of the effort across Canada to find meaningful ways of reconcilingthe relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians, I see myself as an educator as having animportant role in this process of reconciliation.I will discuss the complex interplay of colonialist policies, intergenerational trauma, attachment, and change throughthe lens of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. I will argue that understanding how intergenerational traumacontinues to shape education in Nunavut is crucial in creating a shared narrative, that can ultimately lead toreconciliation by bringing individuals together in partnerships, to undertake the healing process and social reform.

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Journal of Curriculum and Teaching ISSN 1927-2677 (Print) ISSN 1927-2685 (Online)  Email:

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