Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Education




Debassige, Brent


This study explores how teachers, staff, and community members in one school in the Northwest Territories are integrating Inuvialuit and Gwich’in issues, perspectives, and languages into the school and curriculum. Through the Education Renewal Initiative (2013), the Government of the Northwest Territories identified Indigenous languages and culture-based education as a priority to improving education in the NWT, while recognizing that this is a challenging task for teachers coming into the NWT from southern communities. Utilizing a generic qualitative case study methodology, this study recognizes and celebrates the many successful cultural initiatives that are currently occurring within this one school, and identifies the challenges and barriers to the successful integration of culturally relevant learning opportunities from the perspectives of members of staff in the host school. The hope is that the findings from this study contribute to guiding professional development for school staff employed in this school and region.

Summary for Lay Audience

This study focuses on investigating how teachers, staff and community members are integrating Inuvialuit and Gwich’in issues, perspectives, and languages in one school located in the Northwest Territories. Specifically, this study examines and discusses professional development and resources available to teachers and outlines the successes and challenges that they face in offering culturally relevant learning experiences. Using analysis of testing data, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has established that students in the territory are achieving at a lower level than the rest of Canada. There is also an achievement gap in the Northwest Territories (NWT) between Indigenous students and non-Indigenous students, with greater disparity occurring in the smaller community schools where the student population is nearly all Indigenous (GNWT, 2013). In one attempt to address this disparity, the GNWT expects educators to engage in and offer culturally relevant learning opportunities that focus on Indigenous perspectives and culturally responsive content within their schools. Given that many educators in the NWT originate from other locales, relocate to the territory for employment, and are mostly non-Indigenous, they find this task of engaging in and offering culturally relevant learning opportunities in a manner that is both meaningful and respectful of the local Indigenous populations to be challenging. The information gathered in this case study is intended to inform and improve professional development opportunities that focus on the inclusion of culturally relevant learning opportunities for schools in the region.