Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 11, 2017 - 1:10 pm

Nunavut minister hopes Education Act amendments survive final round

Short fall legislative sitting will end fourth assembly in advance of October territorial election

House Leader, and Nunavut Education Minister, Paul Quassa says his government made reforming the Education Act a cornerstone of their mandate and he hopes they can do that before the legislature is dissolved Sept. 24. (FILE PHOTO)
House Leader, and Nunavut Education Minister, Paul Quassa says his government made reforming the Education Act a cornerstone of their mandate and he hopes they can do that before the legislature is dissolved Sept. 24. (FILE PHOTO)

Despite getting battered by Inuit organizations, MLAs and others critics, Nunavut’s education minister still thinks Bill 37, which would amend the territory’s Education Act, might possibly survive.

Nunavummiut will soon find out.

Nunavut MLAs are gearing up for their final legislative assembly meeting in Iqaluit—Sept. 12 to Sept. 19—before the legislature is dissolved in advance of the October territorial election.

Education Minister and House Leader Paul Quassa said he still hopes his government can rescue the controversial act to amend Nunavut’s Education Act from legislative limbo.

“As a government, that’s something that was given to us as a goal for the government, as a mandate for this government, and certainly we do want to carry that forth before the end of the life of this government,” Quassa told Nunatsiaq News from his hometown of Igloolik, Sept. 8.

Among other amendments to the territory’s Education Act, Bill 37 pushes back deadlines for a fully bilingual curriculum from kindergarten to Grade 9 until 2030, while keeping the Grade 10 to Grade 12 bilingual curricula on ice as the territory struggles with a shortage of qualified Inuit teachers.

The bill also reorders responsibilities for local District Education Authorities and replaces the Coalition of Nunavut DEAs with an elected Council of District Education Authorities.

The legislature’s standing committee responsible for legislation, after considering submissions from stakeholders and members of the public behind closed doors in April and May, issued a two-page statement recommending Bill 37, “fall off the order paper when the current Assembly dissolves.”

But while MLAs on the committee cited strong opposition to Bill 37 from groups such as Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., they avoided moving to officially kill the bill during their spring sitting, and were again silent during the legislature’s brief summer sitting.

“As the minister of education, I’m really hoping that the standing committee will come forward, whether there has to be amendments or not. That’s something we’ll have to work on,” Quassa said.

“We’ll see what happens before the end of the sitting. It’ll be up to the House whether its going to be eight days or not.”

The legislative assembly’s senior clerk, John Quirke, told Nunatsiaq News, Sept. 11, that there were no plans for the standing committee on legislation to meet further on Bill 37, and no report from the committee is currently expected.

Nunavut’s fourth legislative assembly will be officially dissolved on Sept. 24, with Nunavut’s fifth general election scheduled for Oct. 30.

Quassa said there are six other pieces of legislation scheduled for consideration by Nunavut MLAs this fall, including three supplementary appropriation bills, and a bill authorizing the regular write-off of assets for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Bill 55, an act amending the Nunavut Motor Vehicles Act, will also be read during the fall sitting. That bill would mandate annual reporting on the administration of the motor vehicles act and traffic safety, as well as a review of the act every five years.

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(13) Comments:

#1. Posted by Voter on September 11, 2017

With a month left in this government’s 4 year life the Minister is finally standing up for what he believes in.

Right or wrong, it’s good to see some integrity.

#2. Posted by Ilinniaqtuq on September 12, 2017

I agree. Paul Quassa is a leader with good intentions AND rational thinking. Nunavut needs more like him. Standardize the language and curriculum so youth have a better shot at learning in Inuktitut.

#3. Posted by huh?? on September 12, 2017

“Despite getting battered by Inuit organizations, MLAs and others critics, Nunavut’s education minister still thinks Bill 37, which would amend the territory’s Education Act, might possibly survive.”

don’t you think this means the people too?  the people don’t like it either, not just the politicians and IO’s, THE PEOPLE don’t like it either, sounds like a twist in reporting..ALOT of people don’t like it.

#4. Posted by Parent on September 12, 2017

another thing that this amendment does nothing of is change or amend the social passing initiative, which EVERYONE knows is a failure, but still, nothing done about it. there are other reasons why this bill is failing the people of Nunavut, and its not just what was submitted and accepted as such, there are other huge issues that the department of education fails to address. it would be a much better bill if it was written by a parent and not a former teacher…

#5. Posted by Let's be realistic on September 12, 2017

@3 “the people” as in the same clique of 10-15 people who are always in the media and act as if they’re the voice of all Inuit?

Good on those 10-15 people, I’ll give them credit for pushing their cause and creating this much disruption, but in the end I think they’re wrong and that stalling Bill 37 will cause way more damage to the school system AND Inuktitut.

Inuktitut education WILL come even if this bill is passed, but the approach has to be totally different. People need to think bigger and outside the box. More Inuktitut teachers filling grades K to 12 in the current system with the same DEAs and regional dialects is STILL a bad education system.

Killing Bill 37 may make these 10-15 people feel good, but everyone else is tired of sacrificing realistic goals in favour of unachievable ones (given the timeframes imposed on the GN).

#6. Posted by huh?? on September 12, 2017

@#5 <—- you’ve obviously been an armchair observer sitting on the sidelines only listening to what you read in the media, you’ve clearly not been a part of any community consultation in any community, i’d say, even in Iqaluit, as if you were, you’d understand, and would have heard the people stand up against this, in almost every community, including Iqaluit…so..yeah…

#7. Posted by Parent on September 12, 2017

Mr. Education Minister please stop listening to your DM and ADM and instead do some work and talk to people that know this bill will not work for Nunavut and for the majority of the people of Nunavut.

It is time for a shuffle of your DM and ADM and time for a new fresh start, it is badly needed in your department.

#8. Posted by Funny on September 12, 2017

Funny how #5 things it’s 10-15 people that are against this terrible bill, let’s flip it the other way, maybe it’s 10-15 people that are pushing hard to get this passed.

What the department of education for the last ten years should of been doing was build the capacity for Inuit teachers and work on a curriculum and work towards looking at standardized Inuktitut, one, two or three dialects. Instead what have they done? Lose the Inuktitut materials that were worked on for years, push for more control because they do not agree with what the DEAS want and what the people want. People who work in other education fields have all said this bill will not work but 10-15 people sure are pushing hard for it.

#9. Posted by Reality Check on September 12, 2017

The last (current) Education Act also met with a lot of resistance, so the fact that this one, which attempts to correct some of the the ill-advised concepts of the last one…..DEA’s need less power, not more; there needs to be greater centralization/standardization of the curriculum and standards; get rid of ‘social promotion’; do standardize Inuktitut- however that is not the Dept of Education’s mandate nor responsibility…until then…support your schools- send your kids - rested and well fed and send them everyday….

#10. Posted by Thanks QE! on September 13, 2017

@#7: If you think for a moment that a new DM and ADM won’t face the same resistance, you’re incredibly naïve and mistaken.  The issues they face will be the same ones:
not enough qualified teachers and parents who want the department of Education to do their work for them. 

Many countries all over the world have their education system in one language, but other languages still manage to thrive and live on because - surprise! - parents speak it to their children at home and teach them how to translate the concepts they learn at school into the language they speak at home.

#11. Posted by Parent on September 14, 2017

#10 will what have the DM and ADM done for the last ten years? Fight the education act that was put in place ten years ago, social passing. Very little in fact less in building capacity for teachers from Nunavut. The list goes on, but some of you who might be a little naive think this is ok and the current DM ADM for the last 15 years has done a great job with our education system.

Also there are other countries that teach in multiple languages and it works great! Just here in Canada, US and U.K. It seems to be in just one language. Lots of great examples where more than one language is taught and right next door to Nunavut there is a perfect example to learn from where they learn their own language alongside other languages.

But I guess the Status Quo is fine with you.

#12. Posted by Parent on September 14, 2017

Also #10 are you really that daft? We speak to our kids at home in our language, our kids speak Inuktitut very well before they start school, but once they start school it starts a steady decline. Again deflecting the true issue where the department of Education has done a terrible job in improving the education system for Inuktitut. There is no structure, there is no curriculum in place, no real recourse and materials to teach with.
It is the obligation for the GN to provide this, not the parents, we do our part at home! The priority is not there with the GN and it shows in our education system. You can deflect or try to, but more and more of us are demanding improvements instead of the status quo. Our language is just as important to us as your language is to you.

#13. Posted by QE on September 14, 2017

haha, just checked here (looking for something else - but it was in comments from another story) but saw this “thanks QE”.
I am guessing the reference to “QE” was to me - but turns out I’m not the only one with these thoughts.  Other “Parents” think some of these kinds of changes are needed. 
I am quite certain I know who “Thanks QE” is, but rather than using an anonymous forum to attempt to out or discredit you, I will continue engaging with you directly and in public discussion to share my views and opinions.  Ulluqatsiaritsi, tamatsi.

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