Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut March 17, 2017 - 4:00 pm

Nunavut MLA says lack of daycare hurts high school attendance

Baker Lake missed out on construction of middle school and daycare

Baker Lake MLA Simeon Mikkungwak says his community needs another daycare to keep school attendance from dropping off in Grade 11 and Grade 12. (FILE PHOTO)
Baker Lake MLA Simeon Mikkungwak says his community needs another daycare to keep school attendance from dropping off in Grade 11 and Grade 12. (FILE PHOTO)

The Government of Nunavut’s policy of including daycares in the construction of new schools offered some promise to parents in Baker Lake—until plans to build a new middle school in the community folded last year.

With that, Baker Lake MLA Simeon Mikkungwak found the community’s next option from the government would be to identify a space for a daycare and establish a society to run the facility, which could then acquire funding to run the operation from the Department of Education.

“Our department is not responsible for acquiring facilities specific to daycares,” Education Minister Paul Quassa told Mikkungwak in the legislative assembly March 14.

“This initiative has to come from the community, and with the establishment of a society, then funding becomes available for the operation of daycares,” Quassa said. “I can only encourage residents of Baker Lake to identify a building for a future daycare space as well as the society status, as our department waits for applications for a future daycare.”

The GN called off plans to build a middle school in Baker Lake last year because school attendance figures were too low, Mikkungwak said.

The MLA said the lack of daycare spaces is what’s actually preventing young parents, who would normally attend Grade 10 to Grade 12, from going to school, which pulls down high school attendance figures.

“Some high school students are young parents, and right now we only have one daycare in the community, and that’s always booked solid for GN employees, or whoever was on top of the priority list,” Mikkungwak later explained to Nunatsiaq News in an interview from Baker Lake on March 16.

“So without another daycare building, or daycare spaces within Baker Lake, it really affects their attendance—due to not being able to find babysitters or not being able to secure a spot for their child at the daycare facility,” he said.

Mikkungwak pointed out to Quassa that Jonah Amitnaaq High School, completed in 2003 and the most recently constructed school in Baker Lake, actually included plans for a daycare in the original design.

The government of the time dropped plans for the daycare, he recalled.

“I would like to know why that is the case, if the minister can outline reasons for this?” the MLA asked.

Quassa replied that the construction of the high school predated the current government’s school-with-daycare construction policy.

In recent years, the government recognized the need for daycare facilities, so “new school designs or school additions includes a requirement for daycare space,” the minister said.

Mikkungwak said he is apprehensive about where this leaves Baker Lake, in terms of classroom sizes and the shortage of daycare in the community.

He estimates the community’s elementary school enrolment levels to be as high as 300. Attendance in this community of about 2,000 drops off in high school, at about Grade 10.

“And those are the critical years, I would say, if you want to excel anywhere in the world today,” he told Nunatsiaq News.

“Including a daycare in the high school would have eliminated that major problem, because attendance would have maintained stability,” he said.

Recovery operations for schools that lost classrooms due to fires in Cape Dorset and Kugaaruk may eat into the government’s budget for education, which could further delay plans to increase school and daycare capacity in Baker Lake, Mikkungwak believes.

The MLA now hopes Quassa and department of education officials will follow up on his request to meet with Baker Lake’s district education authorities “to explore available options with the private sector, if there’s any buildings available that could be identified as a daycare space,” he said.

Quassa suggested in the legislative assembly that DEAs invite department officials “to meet with them and specialists in the Early Childhood division” to discuss options.

“I guess I will find out in the next few weeks whether that will happen,” Mikkungwak said.

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(30) Comments:

#1. Posted by Bbff on March 17, 2017

Last time I checked birth control was free, the education system as it stands today can not take in the additional task involved in safe child care centres. Parents need to step up and help and support their children these teens in making more responsible choices meaning pregnancy is preventable it’s 2017!!!

#2. Posted by muff diver on March 17, 2017

Children are NOT suppose to have children. Why make it conveinent for them?

#3. Posted by What ?!?! on March 17, 2017

Yep!! why don’t we give incentives to these kids to have kids !!
Makes sense to me that the already struggling education system
Should be responsible for day cares .. 
this territory has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Canada !!!!

#4. Posted by Think about it on March 17, 2017

Want they are saying is they don’t have access to “FREE” daycare spots.  Funny thing is that Grade 10, when attendance drops off is the exact grade that social promotion stops. And that is not funny at all, kind of sad really.

#5. Posted by Lima Oscar Lima on March 17, 2017

I hope that this so called MLA’s brilliant idea doesn’t get approved. There are shortages of daycare centres all over! And I strongly agree with muff diver… children are not supposed to be having children!

#6. Posted by Talking points on March 18, 2017

I want to make a smarter talking point for MLA Mikkungwak.  Finish high school before having any sex.

This will make a lot of things easier and less hurtful.

#7. Posted by summary on March 18, 2017

#1-#6 trolls

#8. Posted by Student on March 18, 2017

You all don’t get it.

Having babies is the only way to get housing.  When was the last time a single person or even a childless couple got a house?  Like, never!

You need to have a few babies by the time you apply for housing or you will be living with your parents or homeless.

We’re not stupid, just realistic.

#9. Posted by a birth is a gift on March 18, 2017

Very happy Nunavut’s population is growing.

Life is important.

#10. Posted by Screwed up on March 19, 2017

Such a screwed up society. And the funding squeezed out of the Canadian hard working people. Those young parents don’t succeed in school in any case., daycare or not.

#11. Posted by I see Zombies on March 19, 2017

#9 Yes indeed, and what the hell, lives born into and condemned to endless dysfunction and poverty. A cause for celebration if there ever was one, eh?!

#12. Posted by a light amongst the dark on March 19, 2017

#11 yes as expected comment from the dark bowels of hell.  No vision of life, health and happiness. Only death, dead end, and hopelessness.

More happy news…you are not in control and that is a good thing.

#13. Posted by Jennifer on March 19, 2017

Teen pregnancies are going to occur no matter in what country, or what part of each country you look at; however, to look at these as a positive thing is the problem.

When I lived in Nunavut the very high rate of kids having kids was not viewed in any way as a negative thing, as something that should perhaps be changed and improved upon.

I was truly shocked that no one seemed to think teenagers should grow up a bit before having a child (or multiple kids) of their own. I don’t mean that they should be looked down upon or turned out of their house, but there was nothing the least bit critical in anyone’s attitude about it.

It was a cultural norm, one that in my opinion directly contributes to keeping this generation of young people from improving Nunavut’s future, and their own, overall.

#14. Posted by gift of life on March 19, 2017

#13 a voice from a different life.

“Shocked”?  Need therapy? or is the word “shocked” used for shock value alone?

Oh, thanks.  Not kicked out of house.  Now that is a relief.  #13 is too good.

Birth is a gift and Nunavut is given gifts of life.

#15. Posted by Putuguk on March 19, 2017

Like for criminality, the solution to teen pregnancy is counter intuitive to some.

You have to help. Not browbeat, judge and punish them.

Saying teens must abstain, or they should not be having kids does not make it so. In fact, it causes the opposite.

Thinking a teen mother is rewarded with Day Care ignores the needs of the innocent child, and the young man’s role in the situation. 

It is not hopeless; we just need effort and compassionately applied logic.

After all, some of the most positively active young adults in Nunavut are single mothers.

Determinants of teen pregnancy are well known: low education, low income, no youth involvement, racial segregation, neighborhood dysfunction and income inequality. All these plus culture are at play in Nunavut.

So the solutions on offer must also be clear, and Day Care is definitely in there.

We have Sex Ed and free contraceptives so that is a great start. Opportunities for prosperity have to be added to the mix.

#16. Posted by Uni on March 20, 2017


Or, you know, finish your education and get a decent paying job.

The people saying that more life the merrier are the same ones later complaining there’s not enough housing, jobs and public services such as health and education. Then they will go and demand the Government fix all these problems out of the Taxpayers pocket.

If you can’t support yourself you shouldn’t be creating life that will depend on you.
People need to start being more self sufficient and stop expecting the government to fix all their problems.

#17. Posted by Need Daycares! on March 20, 2017

A typical brush off from the minister what the MLA is saying we need daycares even if we are a called dysfunctional society.
Someone remind the minister that we were going to have Inuktitut daycares once we get Nunavut and how many do we have?
He was one of the main campaigners for Nunavut and he is now a minister and now he is using Government crap brush off.
Go back to the basics of the original Nunavut promise and start with daycares because we need them in every community!
Hey maybe use it as a campaign tool to get your votes and promise daycares!

#18. Posted by Jennifer on March 20, 2017

#14. You did not read my comment very closely, or else did and only paid attention to what you wanted to. I suggested that it would be better to expect kids to grow up a bit more before having children of their own, instead of looking at teen pregnancies like a 100% positive event. Yet, you take offence to this. Your reaction is part of the problem. Don’t you want a better educated generation? A generation that is not as dependent on the government as it currently is? A generation that is able to consistently provide for itself? A generation that does not need to rely on White imports to fill many of the jobs because there are simply no qualified Inuit to do them? Well an important step in that direction is a lower teen pregnancy rate, which will contribute to a higher completed level of education rate. I’ll await your reply calling me unreasonable and racist

#19. Posted by White Supremacists on March 20, 2017

It is taking Nunavut a bit longer than usual to stop thinking the colonialist way of thinking - that it is wrong to have kids when your body says you can have kids now.  Traditionally Inuit married when they turned 16 years of age (on average) and started having kids right about then.  It is our elders who keep encouraging this - their kids got kids at about 16 years of age and these people’s kids are getting kids at about the same age.  But our world is vastly changing and I believe this will not always be the case now - kids getting kids.  Maybe this new generation of babies being born now will change all that if you keep lecturing us that what we’ve always done is wrong and that we have to change to your liking.

Well, excuse us for having our own way of life, our own beliefs and how they don’t measure up to yours!

#20. Posted by Unscrew It on March 20, 2017

#10 - maybe time for Canada to seriously consider letting go of Nunavut for another country to take over.  We’re already too expensive for your liking anyways!

#21. Posted by nu on March 20, 2017

#8,lol, thank god im not from baker.

#22. Posted by Times change and so does culture on March 20, 2017

It used to be normal for cultures all around the world to have kids at a young age, but times changed and those cultures adjusted.
It was once normal in southern Canada to drop out of school in grade 9 or 10 and start working largely because you didn’t need any sort of education to get a job. Today if you don’t at least have a high school diploma you’re going to have a very hard time getting a job.
So by all means, if you want to make life harder for yourself have a kid while you’re still in high school, but wouldn’t it make a lot more sense and make life easier for yourself to get an education and job first? Then you can actually provide for your family.

#23. Posted by Unik on March 20, 2017

That would all be well and good if Inuit kept to the traditional way of life.
The problem is when you want to keep doing things that way but have these “white supremacist” lifestyle. We can’t breed like rabbits and expect everyone to have a cozy house with heating, a supermarket that will provide food by just going in and picking something up.

If we still lived in tents and hunt for our food it would be a different thing, then we could have all the kids we want. The way it is now, we want to still have 5 kids but complain because the government won’t provide us with white European style houses.

#24. Posted by Sam I am on March 20, 2017


I’ve noticed a pattern where any kind of criticism, constructive or valid as it may be. that is aimed at Nunavut from us ‘outsiders’ is instantly relegated in status to a colonial injunction of sorts. In that way it is always, reflexively wrong, or invalid. This demonstrates the insularity, insecurity, and cultural fragility of Nunavut as a society.

Trying to reconceptualise every dysfunctional and maladaptive social practice under the banner of “culture” also demonstrates how meaningless the term culture has become in Nunavut. Was population growth as explosive and as disconnected to the ability to provide and abundance of resources in your ancient past? No way.

With that in mind I don’t think Inuit really know what their culture is today. The term has become sacred, a carries tremendous moral currency which is regularly exchanged in public and by Inuit, government, and residents alike.

#25. Posted by Sam I am (pt 2) on March 20, 2017


Yet it remains a nebulous and ill-defined construct. All the ulu making, maktaaq eating, seal skin mitts and drum dancing in the world are not going to connect you to it in any meaningful way, because these are symbols of a past you no longer know and that no longer represents your reality or experience today in any substantive way. But the longer you look backwards and refuse to simultaneously looking ahead, the worse the situation will grow and more disconnected you will become.

#26. Posted by E.Nook on March 20, 2017

I talk with many friends from Europe and U.K. on the internet,who have
visited or worked in Nunavut at one time or another.
They have told me that they have exactly the same problems,that we
have in Nunavut, in their own countries.

#27. Posted by Nu on March 20, 2017

Sam i am, we have a rich culture, just cause u cannot understand it doesnt mean you know what your talking about, but dont listen to this person wheras his culture now is walmart/mcdonalds and shopping malls.

#28. Posted by Observer on March 20, 2017

The life expectancy of someone born in what is now Nunavut as recently as 70 years ago was 29, which is about the same as that of the Bronze Age and Iron Age in Eurasia. That doesn’t mean people dropped dead at 29, but that huge numbers of infants and children did, which drags down the average. Studies of modern hunter-gatherers, which is the best estimate to what things were like in the past, show that 30-40% of people die before they get to 15 years old, most of them before they were five.

So there’s a reason there was encouragement to start having kids young; it was expected that 1/3rd to nearly a half of the children being born would be dead before they had the chance to have children of their own.

That was traditional. Teenagers and young adults had to have kids because if they didn’t, with about 40% of babies going to *die* before they finished growing up, there wouldn’t be enough survivors to maintain the population.

#29. Posted by Nevada Bob on March 21, 2017

The part in all of this that scares me is that these kids are running having with multiple partners.  They have children and the fathers of these children is at best uncertain.  Then those children grow up, do the same thing and really, don’t we think the gene pool is shallow enough?

Also, I do not understand why in Nunavut the bible is held to such a high regard yet the bible is VERY clear on illegitimate children and sex before marriage, so how is it ok?

#30. Posted by Unik on March 21, 2017

Observer, you hit the nail on the head.

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