The NunatuKavut community council is closer to its goal of providing more education in Inuttitut and traditional knowledge in schools after recently signing a memorandum of understanding to do just that.
The council, the Newfoundland and Labrador government and the province's English school district signed the memorandum, to strengthen ties on education and plan curriculum changes, on Friday. The agreement lays out objectives and a 30-day deadline to establish a working group to act on them.
Amy Hudson, the council's chief governance officer, said having traditional knowledge and history in schools can help transform the education system for the better.
"This strengthened relationship is another opportunity to ensure that our children, our learners and youth have opportunities to see themselves and their culture and their values reflected in what they learn in the classroom and how they learn," said Hudson.
The working group will develop a curriculum on NunatuKavut Inuit, develop resources that address the experiences of NunatuKavut Inuit within the residential school system, and explore the creation of Inuttitut language education.
The Newfoundland and Labrador English School district agrees. Tina White, the district's assistant director of schools for Labrador, said there is a growing focus on Indigenous education in the province as well as a recognition that increasing student engagement and connecting learning to real life requires resources that reflect the languages, traditions and cultures in the province.
"This is very exciting, as we move forward, that our staff and our students will have the ability to really learn about our own stories," said White.
Dispute over NunatuKavut's Indigeneity
The NunatuKavut community council's Indigeneity has been questioned by the Innu Nation, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Nunatsiavut government. When asked, Hudson wouldn't say whether the curriculum would address the dispute, but said education can create bridges.
"I see education as an important opportunity for healing and and to and to grow as humans and citizens and to really create mutual respect between all peoples," Hudson said. "It's my hope the inclusion of Inuit in this part of the world and in this part of the province will be a benefit to everyone."
The dispute involving the council is better left to those who work in politics, said White, but disagreements can be part of any curriculum, she said.
"If you correlate that to life, we as humans don't always agree about certain things. So it's OK to have that in place and to have that as a point of discussion or a point of debate," White said.
White said it's a complex process but they will take the lead from elders and community members.