Ilisaijinngulauqtut (They became teachers): A Discussion of Inuit Teacher Education Opportunities Within Inuit Nunangat


  • Pauline Copland Government of Nunavut
  • Holly Carpenter Beaford Delta Education Council
  • Jodi Lyall University of Prince Edward Island
  • Nancy Etok Kativik Ilisarniliriniq
  • Kathy Snow University of Prince Edward Island
  • Ruth Kane University of Ottawa


Initial teacher education in Canada involves both education and certification. While teaching is designed by post-secondary institutions, certification falls under the jurisdiction of provinces and territories. Within Inuit Nunangat the intersection of both is guided by land claims agreements, which vary across the region. We establish a baseline for ongoing discussions of Inuit teacher education opportunities for growth. We also adopt Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) as a framework for unifying discussions across the regions, and through this, highlight innovations in teacher education within each of the regions in relation to the history of program development and student experience. In addition, regionally specific challenges with teacher education alongside shared challenges impacting recruitment, retention, and professional progression of teachers are discussed. Finally in our concluding thoughts, we explore the tensions between intentions and realities of becoming teacher for Inuit who wish to compete their initial teacher education at home.

Author Biographies

Pauline Copland, Government of Nunavut

Pauline Copland grew up in Arviat, Nunavut and continues to live there with her husband and five children. She is a high school Inuktitut teacher. She is a graduate of the Nunavut Teacher Education Program and holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Regina. Pauline also recently received a certificate in educational leadership from the University of Prince Edward Island.

Holly Carpenter, Beaford Delta Education Council

Holly Carpenter is an Inuvialuktun language specialist originally from Inuvialuit, and currently resides in Edmonton AB. She has taught in her home region for 10 years. Alice holds a Bachelor of Arts in Native Studies as well as a Bachelor of Education, both from the University of Alberta. She and her husband have two children.

Jodi Lyall, University of Prince Edward Island

Jody Lyall was born and raised in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador. She is currently still living in her hometown to be close to her family and she teaches in an Indigenous community a half-hour away. Jodi participated in the Memorial University Inuit Bachelor of Education(IBED) program from 2014-2019. Along with her B.Ed., she also received a certificate in Aboriginal and Indigenous studies and a language certificate in Inuktitut from the Nunatsiavut Government.

Nancy Etok, Kativik Ilisarniliriniq

Nancy Etok is an Inuk from Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik. She has held various positions at her school such as teacher, student counselor and is currently the Vice-Prinicipal at Ulluriaq School. She has been in the education field for over 20 years.

Kathy Snow, University of Prince Edward Island

Kathy Snow is the academic lead of the Certificate in Educational Leadership in Nunavut (CELN) program at the University of Prince Edward Island as well as a Professor in the Faculty of Education. As a non-Inuit, originally from Nunavut, she endeavours to implement research as an act of reconciliation. Her work focuses on the factors impacting Inuit student success, persistence and well-being in formal education towards policy and curriculum change

Ruth Kane, University of Ottawa

Ruth Kane is a full professor has served as Director of Teacher Education (2006-2012) and Director of Graduate Studies (Anglophone) (2015-2021) in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa, Canada. She is currently co-lead of a 3-year ArcticNet-funded study of sustainable inuit-centered teacher education for Inuit Nunangat, a collaborative project bringing together researchers the four Inuit Nunangat jurisdictions and five universities (UPEI, uOttawa, Memorial, Winnipeg, Queens).