Arctic Eider Society (AES)
Arctic Eider Society (ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᒥᑎᓕᒻᒥᐅ), is a registered Canadian charity based in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, created in 2011. Through three pillars– Community-Driven Research, Education and Outreach, and Stewardship, they contribute to local capacity building and self-determination. The Arctic Sea Ice Educational Package for high school science, that emerged from that work is the focus of this study.
The educational curriculum developed by Arctic Eider Society grew out of Inuit led community-based monitoring projects, and hence, is place-based.
For a long time, Inuit observed and monitored changes in the Hudson Bay area, especially in terms of the formation of ice, changes in water currents, and its direct effects on Arctic Eider who struggle to feed, given the James Bay hydraulic development project that started in 1971. The curriculum emerged from that community need to prepare future generations of Inuit to be keen observers of their environments and stewards of their land. The development process of the curriculum is ongoing and driven by the need to prepare future generations of Inuit to respond to environmental challenges by weaving together Inuit ways of knowing with Western Science and technology.
The developed technology by Arctic Eider, the Siku platform and tool, supports the immediate recording of local knowledge and sharing of information. As is, it has become key to the safe pursuit of hunting and local monitoring. The Siku monitoring tool is a cutting-edge example of the manner communications technology (ICTs) can be integrated into curriculum and practice in Inuit Nunangat, next to GIS tools, with both facilitating the sharing of information in a timely manner within and across communities. That tool also supports the blending of Indigenous Ways of Knowing with Western Science, a blending that is locally relevant and grounded in IQ.
Results from the Arctic Eider Curriculum
From the Community for the Community
"Community members were saying, we need to have math and science, we need to have kids learning these things so they can do environmental research themselves, and we need to build capacity, and so it was all that kind of conversations and that’s when Joe Heath really decided to do the outreach package, and so it definitely stands from a call from communities to get research out and available to kids and in a capacity that they could sort of build on it, also integrated with indigenous knowledge, so it can be useful in the future". [Educational Coordinator AES, J. Kidd, 2020]
"It’s really a curriculum adapted to the reality of Inuit, I strongly believe in it!"
[Teacher B, 2019]
My Favorite ? Arctic Food Webs, Maybe?
"I think I like the Arctic Food Web, it’s my favorite, just because it’s super adaptable to any region and there are a ton of different animals that get identified and there’s a lot of stories that come out of it with kids. Stories like ‘oh I saw a person that eats so and so’ or ‘last week when I was out on the land, where you know we caught this seal and we opened it up, we saw that it had shrimp and not cod in its stomach, and the elders say that seals used to eat cod when the oceans were colder, but not anymore’… it’s a real ground for the development of indigenous knowledge through story-telling which is so cool and it’s super adaptable to like different grade levels, and different abilities, and different regions".
[Educational Coordinator AES, J. Kidd, 2020]
Not Just the Curriculum Matters but Who Is Teaching – Next Steps
“A colleague of mine had a community member as a co-teacher not a teacher trainee that’s not the terminology a co-teacher somebody else to be in there with you to work with you. Umm, and the kids loved it and he loved it and I think his co-teacher loved it." [Teacher A, 2019]
"A year and a half ago, I was working at the school, I was a special education technician, so I was working closely with students that needed more explanation, more understanding in Inuktitut, so that was a good position for me, and for the students. That way, they could ask me what the teacher was asking them to do..." [A. Novalinga, 2019]
What Siku – The Indigenous Knowledge Social Network, Developed by AES, Will Do Maybe
"There is still so much more work to be done, to adapt the curriculum locally, through work with the community, with the elders, with the cultural teachers, with the science teachers, but unfortunately, especially the science teachers, they never stay very long, so it makes it a challenge, they barely get to know Inuit Ways and they leave, it’s a challenge". [Teacher B, 2019]
"…this is kind of a dream but it would be nice to have it come from Inuit in Inuktitut. Like the curriculum to be created in Inuktitut and then translated into English and French. That, I mean like I say it’s a dream. I think it’s quite difficult for that to be a reality" [Teacher A, 2019]
“What we want to do is open more doors”
"My biggest hope is to see, and I think it is probably the hope of everybody, to see Inuit teachers teaching Inuit content, I mean that’s ultimately what we’re in the game for, is to build capacity where we can be helpful, and building capacity and play like a supporting role, but ultimately we want to step away from what we’re doing and have hopefully helped in mobilizing Inuit knowledge to keep it going on for generations, like I think the biggest disservice that we could do is continue to eradicate it from our policy and our education and all of the things when it’s a National Treasure, there’s so much knowledge that people are willing to share that we could build so much better policies on, and so much better educational resources on, and we could do so much better if we just used it well, so that’s my hope for the future" [Educational Coordinator AES, J. Kidd, 2020]