Before I report on NTA business, I would like to acknowledge the tragic loss of Peter Pitseolak School in Cape Dorset by fire. It has been a difficult time for the whole community and a difficult situation for the teaching staff of both Peter Pitseolak and Sam Pudlat Schools. Shortly after the fire destroyed Peter Pitseolak, both schools were scheduled to operate at Sam Pudlat Elementary on shortened split days. As any teacher can imagine, this is less than an ideal situation. The community and Departments of Education and CGS have been looking at other arrangements but no final decisions have been made. Emile Hatch and I have visited the community and I hope to get back to visit with the staff after more information is available.

This has been a busy fall. We completed our cross training, are working on membership protection issues, preparing for our Kitikmeot Conference as well as other PD activities and have been involved with school visits.

In early October in Iqaluit, we hosted our School Reps and PD Liaisons for cross training that included 1 or 2 NTA members from most of our schools and worksites. Every second year, we work with the GN on four days of cross training, which includes two days of NTA School Rep and PD Liaison training along with two days of a topic determined by the Department. This year’s topic for the GN was Respect Education. School reps and PD Liaisons remain our best contacts with the schools.

It is important that the membership is aware that the NTA is actively working on revamping the NTA email system. The current Google system is blocked in schools. We will work with your School Reps to keep you informed of the progress on the new system.

Over the past two years, we worked with the GN on a number of projects that affect our members and the communities in which they live. NTA is also involved with many of its own initiatives. I would like to report on the progress of some of them.

  • NTA released the completed posters from last year’s poster contest. All posters are translated into four languages and emphasize the importance of elders, teachers, coaches and parents in the education of our children.
  • We were pleased to present Becky Tootoo the NTA Teaching Excellence Award at the President’s banquet during the cross training sessions. Becky is our first recipient and we were delighted to recognize her.
  • We presented to the Education Act review committee in May and look forward to the results of the consultation.
  • We are working with the GN through our Nunavut Educators’ Qualification Service Committee (NEQS) to review the Nunavut Certification system. We made a number of recommendations, including a ten-year certification cycle. We will report to members as progress is made.
  • Our Nunavut Professional Improvement Committee (NPIC) has meetings scheduled with the GN over the next month. This committee has equal representation from the NTA and the GN and makes recommendations on many items with regards to the administration of the PD fund. We are extremely cautious with regards to the administration of the PD fund. The PD fund is a negotiated item and we always need to demonstrate that we are prudent managers.
  • School administrators are into their second year of the Certificate in Educational Leadership in Nunavut (CELN) program. CELN replaced the Educational Leadership Program (ELP). Administrators were once required to spend approximately two weeks of their summer for two summers, including time for travel and course work, to be certified as a principal in Nunavut. They now complete courses during the regular school calendar and qualify for university credits that can be used toward a Master’s program. We’ve had a positive response to the new setup.
  • The NTA and GN worked on the Parental and Community Engagement document. A new document entitled ‘It Starts at Home’ has been released to schools, DEAs and families. We look forward to receiving input from members on the document.
  • The literacy initiative received a lot of attention from the GN and the NTA. There was great concern that more resources in
    the form of extra staff was not initially a part of the program and expressed this to the Department on behalf of our members. We are pleased that the GN has put funding in place for the extra staff necessary to work with staff in the schools.
  • We have expressed concern that the GN has not been offering in-servicing for its curriculum initiatives over the past year. We have been assured that any new Department of Education initiative will come along with in-service planning. We will continue to monitor this through our Curriculum Committee.
  • Emile and I presented at the Principal’s Conference in September. One positive note is that there seemed to be much less turn over of administrators than previous years.
  • We are in the third year of our Collective Agreement that expires in June 2017. Central Executive will look at putting a negotiating team in place later this year.
  • We have two years remaining in our three-year Conference plan. The next two conferences will be a Kitikmeot Conference in 2016 and the Nunavut-wide conference in 2017. Callouts to the membership have been made for presenters for the 2016 conference and the committee has met in Cambridge Bay.
  • All of our NTA committees are in place and are expected to have regular meetings.
  • There should be a release of the ‘Thank You For Making a Difference Campaign’ early in 2016.
  • We continue our work with the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, the Council of Atlantic Provinces Teachers’ Organization and the Northern Teachers’ Council.

The NTA is concerned with the Department’s stand on leaves. It appears that legitimate leave requests are being continually denied to our members. Many of these leaves are requests for extracurricular and NTA business. It is ironic in an AWG year the GN will rely on volunteer teacher coaches and make it difficult for them to obtain leaves for competitions and training. However, we have been informed the GN will release a new policy on leaves. We are concerned the Policy will be more of a philosophical statement with few, if any, specifics. We look forward to reviewing the draft document.

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit three schools in the high arctic in the early fall. I visited Arctic Bay, Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord. I am always impressed with the warm welcome that I receive and the positive atmospheres in the schools. Thanks again to all of you for sharing the positive activities in your schools.

I wish all of you a very enjoyable fall.

Terry Young
NTA President