Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Education

Supervisor(s)

Dr. Shelley Taylor

Abstract

Canada has a reputation for diversity and acceptance and of late has made significant strides in formalizing apologies for the maltreatment of Aboriginal populations (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, 2010). The purpose of this study was to investigate Inuit educators’ perceptions of education in Nunavik. While multiple studies consider concerns regarding Inuit education and low graduation rates (Brady, 1996; Walton, 2012), few studies consider the role that Inuit educators can play in assuring the optimal success of Inuit students. This study, situated in Nunavik, the Inuit homeland located within Northern Quebec, fills that gap. Using qualitative methodology and a decolonizing framework, 36 Inuit educators were interviewed. To ensure balanced data collection both an interview guide and conversational interview approach were utilized. Critical theories, including critical race theory, transformative multiliteracies pedagogies, and a focus on linguicism, were used to support the data analysis. With the transcripts, and using the above mentioned theories, four significant themes were defined: caring in education, relationships, racism, and language choice. The research suggests that Inuit educators have suffered from a “master narrative” that frames them in a deficit perspective; additionally, a Eurocentric focus on education (bound within a goal of English or French competence in Canada) has eroded the educational, cultural, and linguistic roles that Inuit educators play within the schooling of Inuit students in Nunavik. These factors, coupled with pervasive systemic racism, create a challenging environment for Inuit educators. The results of this study suggest that shifting leadership practices, creating more equity between Inuit and Qallunaat (non-Inuit) educators, and adjusting language policies may support both Inuit educators and students. By constructing their own counter narratives, the Inuit educators within this study take significant steps towards disrupting the status quo and creating a new story.


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