Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada
1 Nicholas Street, Suite 520
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll Free: 1-800-667-0749
Lema Ijtemaye, Acting Manager, Socio-Economic Development
Pauktuutit’s President, Board of Directors and staff believe that all Inuit women deserve equal access to and benefits from education and they work to ensure that Inuit women participate equally in both traditional educational activities in their communities and within the Canadian education system. This can ensure that women are prepared to face the challenges ahead of them and participate fully in the social, economic and political levels. Pauktuutit advocates at all levels of government for educational tools and curriculum that reflect traditional Inuit cultural as well as provide adequate training and education for Inuit women and youth to fully engage in their modern economies and social structures. Pauktuutit also is represented on Inuit Tapariit Kanatami’s National Committee on Inuit Education. We are dedicated to a holistic education that provides Inuit women and youth the tools they need to lead happy, healthy lives that allow them to contribute fully to their communities.
Inuit Education Today
For Inuit, the term education means much more than what happens in a classroom; education encompasses the life-long learning that individuals do to become full participating members of their communities. Prior to colonization, Inuit learned by watching and interacting with their elders, and traditional knowledge was valuable and essential for survival as modern education is in contemporary western cultures. However, the damaging impacts of colonization-including the residential school system-undermined traditional education practices and separated youth from the safety and comfort of their families and communities. This forced attempt at assimilation on the part of the Canadian government caused trauma to not only those who attended residential schools, but also to their families and communities. This profoundly negative educational experience has had a lasting impact on Inuit women and their families.
As Inuit collectively fight to restore and revalue traditional education practices, they are also participating in the mainstream Canadian education systems in increasing numbers. While residential schools have now closed, the current state of the public education system in the North is in a state of crisis. Literacy levels are well below the national average in elementary and secondary schools alike. It is of great concern that nearly 60 per cent of Inuit across the four Arctic regions have less than a high school education.[i] Furthermore, with 50% of the current Inuit population under the age of 25, there is a pressing need to educate youth so that they can fill important positions within the northern economy. Inuit lack equal access to post-secondary education and the necessary supports to get them there as most individuals must leave their homes and communities to pursue educational opportunities in southern Canada.