Book's birth
Teacher develops text about Nunavut's history

Malcolm Gorrill
Northern News Services

Iqaluit ( May 15/00) - Nunavut teachers will have a new resource at their disposal come September.

A book written and edited by Inuksuk high school teacher Nick Newbery in Iqaluit will be recommended Grade 9 curriculum material across the territory. The book details the history of the land claim and the birth of Nunavut, as well as its present makeup.

The book was officially launched Tuesday in Newbery's classroom.

"Teaching in Nunavut is wonderful.

" You're allowed to do so many different things," Newbery told his students, as well as his visitors -- Education Minister James Arvaluk, assistant deputy minister of education Naullaq Arnaquq, and Jerry Ell, president of Qikiqtaaluk Corporation.

"But at the same time, it can be difficult because you don't always have the books you need," Newbery explained.

The Qikiqtaaluk Corporation paid for the development of the book, and after the launch Ell said it was $10,000 well spent.

"Getting a good education is crucial to getting a good job. It's all tied into education," Ell said.

"When I was in high school, all the material we were going over was talking about southern Canada or the United States or Europe. That had no relevance to me.

"But now there is some material available that incorporates our own history, recent history, but it's our own history as Inuit," Ell said.

"It's very important for our youth to understand at this point where we're coming from."

Newbery said one purpose of the book is to counter the dropout problem.

"A lot of what they're taught about doesn't come from their home area.

"If you can teach them something that's from their part of the world, and their future, they might be interested and enjoy it," Newbery said.

"The idea is to tell them the story, make it come alive and hopefully motivate them to want to be a part of it. Children need motivation at the best of times and I think in the North we've often tended to hand them southern materials in a way that was not particularly attractive."

Newbery tested his book on his class this year.

"It's a difficult thing to study, the history of government and the history of the land claim, because first of all, it's all in English, and this is a second language for our students," the teacher said.

"It took us probably six to eight weeks to cover this whole course, that's one afternoon four days a week," he said.

"We do feel at the end of it they have some idea, some idea of how the government works and how we got to have a Nunavut," Newbery said.

"Nunavut was always a thing in the air and now at least it maybe takes on a little bit of reality."