Thursday, March 19, 2009

Education in Arctic Bay: The Early Years

The modern era of education in the NWT (which also included Nunavut at the time) had its beginning in 1955. This was the year in which a unified system of school administration was established under the newly formed Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources. The late 1950's saw a flurry of school construction.

Here is my understanding of the growth of the school here in Arctic Bay. Any mistakes are my own and I welcome any corrections and clarifications.

Arctic Bay's first school began as an old Department of Transportation building that was converted into a small grade 1 to grade 4 school in 1958. The first teacher, Margery Hinds, was also a witness to the "High Arctic Relocations" in 1953 when a group of Inuit from Inukjuak in northern Quebec (along with a few families from Arctic Bay and neighbouring Pond Inlet) were moved to what is now Resolute Bay. Subsequent teachers included the good and the not so good. Kenn Harper, who taught here from 1968-75 is a businessman, historian and one of the few Southerners I know of who speaks Inuktitut fluently. He still resides in the North and his columns featuring Arctic history are published weekly in Nunatsiaq News. Maurice Cloughly, who taught in a number of different school in addition to Arctic Bay, is infamous for the number of charges of sexual abuse he was been convicted on.

In 1958 the community, had a population of approximately 300 (which I assume also included the outlying camps) and a school population of 15. In 1967, a new two-classroom school was constructed on the site of the current school with additional classrooms added in 1970 and 1976. By 1970, the school had a staff of 3 teachers and 66 registered students from grade 1 to 6. In 1971, the school was given the name "Inuujaq School" after an elder. While I'm not 100% certain I believe the meaning of the name has to do with a small, yet developing person. In 1985, the current gym, which also doubles as a community hall (Qaggavik Hall) was added. A high school wing with 4 classrooms (my neck of the school) was also added at a later time, although I don't recall the exact date.

Here is the original school building as it appeared circa 1958.

A local elder, Atuat, demonstrates drumming at the school, 1966.

Adult education at a hunting camp near Arctic Bay, 1966.

This photo really doesn't have anything to do with the topic of education but since I came across it, I thought I'd include it anyway. The flurry of activity that is known as sea lift time in Arctic Bay, 1965.

In this last photo we see Reverend Edmund Peck with new converts, Blacklead Island, Cumberland Sound, near Pangnirtung, date unknown. Reverend Peck, as I wrote about previously, was instrumental in the growth of syllabics, a writing system for Inuktitut.


Kiggavik said...

Now its my turn to say that you've written a post that I have planned for awhile.

Couple of notes: The population definitely would have been mostly outlying camps in 1958. There is a picture in the school from 1965 that shows five houses here, apart from the HBC and Weather Station.

The picture of Atuat is great (you can kind of make out her tattoos). I believe the man behind her is Ettuk - who is legendary here.

One really interesting aspect of early (formal) education up here (of course education has been going on here for millennia) occurred for about 3 years in the early 60's. There was a husband and wife teacher here, she taught at the school and he travelled by dog team on a weekly circuit to out post camp teaching at each one in turn.

In the early years, before most Inuit moved into town, the children from the nearby camps walked to school daily. From places like Victor Bay and Uluksan Point.

Way Way Up said...

Thanks Clare, I changed Atuat's name to reflect the more accurate Inuktitut spelling. I love that old picture of the community you mention. I've been meaning for the longest time to get a picture of it and crop it but I keep forgetting to bring my camera with me.

The book from which I got some of my information for this post mentions a Mr. Lorne Smith who taught here from 1961-66. When I first arrived here I remember seeing a display near the office listing the names of former teachers and I remember this guy's name since his tenure here was one of the longer ones. Anyhow, my book here mentions Smith as a teacher who took weekly dog team trips to 3 surrounding camps to teach in addition to his teaching duties in the community.

Bonnieupnorth said...

Darcy & Clare,

Thank-you for your detailed history...daily walks from Victor Bay and Uluksan Point! I know I have hiked both but daily! Remember Larry in Kugluktuk telling out in the early 70s how he would be involved in flights to surrounding summer camps to bring the children in to school.