York grad student looks at schooling in a Nunavut community

A thesis by York PhD student Adam Pulpan on education among the Inuit was featured in the Toronto Star’s Deep Thoughts column Jan. 16. Here’s the Star’s summary of his work:

Thesis: Role of School within a Remote Nunavut Community: The Relationship of Community and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit in Education of Youth

What’s it about: Pulpan has been studying the relationships between the elders, parents and youth in a rural Inuit community. His goal: understand the cultural impact of placing youth in residential schools in the 1950s.

Which is important why? Pulpan studied the small community of Sanikiluaq, which is located on the Belchers Islands in Hudson’s Bay. Since the town now has a school on its island, teachers use a curriculum that combines public education with activities to promote the band’s heritage. As such, the role of schools has changed from a place where the last generation was stripped of its culture, to one in which it’s promoted and strengthened.

The future: Pulpan’s continuing his research to find out if today’s youth are now teaching their parents about traditional activities like hunting and harpooning – things they’re learning in the school system – because the parents never learned those skills as youth. This is important because not only does it spread the number of people with cultural knowledge but "this is the last generation of elders to live off the land." So if the cultural ways are not passed down, they could be lost forever.

On air

  • York student Jamaal Smith, a member of the York Lions men’s soccer team, talked about his invitation to try out for Toronto FC, the city’s new professional soccer team, on CBC-TV’s “News Morning” Jan. 15.
  • Markus Geisler, marketing professor in York’s Schulich School of Business, discussed planned obsolescence on CBC Newsworld Jan. 14.