What is the project about?
Non-formal community-based cultural programs offer a unique opportunity to Nunavut adults and youth to develop literacy, language, and essential skills. Typically, non-formal programs operate with some degree of organization, maintaining the flexibility for participants to determine their own goals and evaluate their own progress and success. All participants, whether “instructor” or “student,” have something to teach and something to learn. In Nunavut, examples include land camps, community sewing programs, and traditional arts and tool-making programs. These programs recreate the informal and intergenerational learning characteristic of traditional knowledge transmission, though with their structure and organization they provide a bridge to more formal learning.
What is the goal of the project?
The purpose of this Ilitaqsiniq-NLC research project is to make the impacts of non-formal cultural learning programs in Nunavut visible to learners, communities, and policy makers.
What is the research plan?
The research looks at how participants in five non-formal learning programs were affected by the programs. What skills did the participants develop? What changes in their lives did they observe? The research also reviews the teaching methods used in the programs to determine what worked well.
The research adopts a community-based approach. The research team includes Ilitaqsiniq-NLC staff from offices in the three regional centres of Nunavut, an academic research guide, and an external project evaluator. The community researchers, including an elder and two local educators, are all fluent in the Inuit language, well-connected and respected in the community where they are conducting the research.
The research process involves a literature review of nonformal culturally-anchored programs with literacy outcomes in comparable contexts; documentation of three such programs previously run in the community researchers’ home community; and the creation, implementation, and documentation of a pilot program incorporating promising practices identified in the first two stages.
Who is funding the project?
Ilitaqsiniq-NLC Nunavut Literacy Council gratefully acknowledges research funding from the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills, Canada.
What has the project shown so far?
While participants experienced diverse outcomes, four emerge consistently across programs and participants:
- pilimmaksarniq (targeted skill through practice);
- piunnautitaaqpaalliqsimaliqtut (confidence that comes from skills);
- ilippallianginnarniq (engagement with lifelong learning);
- and inuuqatigiitsiarniq (interconnectedness).
These outcomes are interrelated and closely linked with other prevalent outcomes such as innguiniq (healing and life skills), Inuit qaujimajatuqangit (traditional knowledge), piliriqatigiinniq (working together), and uqaqatigiigunnattiarniq (communication skills).