Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit

Hard to pronounce, but even harder to live up to: Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, or I.Q., is the concept of Inuit traditional knowledge. As the territory of Nunavut tries to use I.Q. to guide itself in areas of public policy, UPEI is working with an award-winning filmmaker to track I.Q. among its next generation of leaders. 

Dr. Fiona Walton, associate professor of Education at UPEI, is teaming up with Gemini Award-winning filmmaker Mark Sandiford. This is their second project together, the first being Sandiford’s film “Lighting the Qulliq: The First Master of Education Program for Nunavut”.  

Walton was one of the driving forces behind UPEI’s Master of Education program that
graduated its first class on Canada Day, 2009. She was impressed by the film’s ability to convey the story behind the program. 

“We also wrote a 130-page report on the program, full of transcription and analysis,” says Walton. “But it’s not visually dynamic. Frankly, to most people, it may be boring. Who is going to read it through? Mark’s film conveys much of the same information, but it delivers an emotional message you can’t get from an academic report.” 

The new documentary will look at two high schools on Baffin Island as case studies—Clyde River, and Pangnirtung. Both schools are led by graduates of the MEd program. 

“We want to explore the use of I.Q. within their leadership, and the impact it has on students,” says Walton. “We’ll be following students in Grade 11 and 12. Not just their lives at school, but their interaction with their parents, community, and elders.”  

“There is a trade-off in using film as a dissemination tool, rather than a paper,” explains Sandiford. “Film is less defensible, academically. But the impact and truth that can be conveyed by film is hard to measure. We’re also dealing with an oral culture, and I think film is a bit closer to that means of conveying a message.”

The film will be made collaboratively, says Sandiford, partially by design, and partially because of logistics. 

“These are faraway places,” he says from his home town of Charlottetown, “and some of the most expensive plane tickets you can imagine. For me to shoot the whole thing, I’d have to fly to each community several times during the year of the case study. So we’ll be hiring Inuit camera people to collect most of the raw video, and I think that’s really valuable. An Inuk will see things I won’t, and ask questions I wouldn’t think of.”

The film will be made for both Inuktitut and English audiences, but will be shot mainly in Inuktitut. The project, “Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and the Transformation of High School Education in Nunavut”, is funded by ArcticNet, a Network of Centres of Excellence of Canada. It is also a collaboration with the Nunavut Department of Education and the Coalition of District Education Authorities—the voice of parents in Nunavut.

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