Press Release

UQAT presents five medals of honour to educational leaders from the communities of Ivujivik, Puvirnituq, and UQAT

Val-d'Or, November 16, 2018 – On November 16 the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT) paid tribute to five educational leaders from the communities of Ivujivik and Puvirnituq and from UQAT by presenting each of them with the University's medal of honour. As part of the festivities for UQAT's 35th anniversary, a ceremony that brought together around fifty people, including the Assistant Director General of Kativik Ilisarniliriniq, Ms. Rita Novalinga, the Mayor of Puvirnituq, Ms. Lucy Qalingo and representative of Puvirnituq school committee, was held in the First Peoples Building on UQAT's Val-d'Or campus, an ideal location for communities to meet and mingle.

UQAT honoured Tiili Alasuak (Puvirnituq), Aipilie Kenuajuak (Puvirnituq), Jani Mangiuk (Ivujivik), Gérald McKenzie (Montreal), and Gisèle Maheux (UQAT). These people were key players in developing one of the first partnerships between UQAT and Indigenous peoples, a partnership established in 1984, soon after UQAT's creation in 1983. Together, through their openness, willpower, vision, and actions, these players not only empowered communities to take control of education but also helped to define and implement a unique model of partnership that puts community needs at the centre of processes for training, development, and research.

An unprecedented approach with big benefits
From the outset a co-management committee, made up of Inuit educational leaders and university trainers from UQAT, was set up for the projects. With regard to Inuit teacher training, the partnership has helped to develop and implement three certificate programs for those Inuit teachers who are already teaching. These programs, available since 1987, are the certificate in preschool and primary school teaching in a northern environment, the certificate in preschool and primary school teaching in a northern environment II, and the certificate in development of teaching practice in a northern environment.
All three programs are funded by Kativik Ilisarniliriniq.

In addition, the Unit for research, training, and development in education for Inuit and First Nation contexts (URFDEMIA) was created in 1990. This structure encompasses the co-management committee and supports various educational projects from the communities. Today, its activities take place in three languages (French, English, Inuktitut) and two cultures, with more than 1,300 kilometres separating the partners. To date, 28 Inuit teachers have graduated from one of the three certificate programs, and 24 Inuit students are currently being trained.

 “UQAT's special partnership with First Peoples today represents an inescapable step forward in our university's development, which has been based on a shared desire for “living together.” This partnership with Inuit communities has introduced and established a way of doing things at UQAT for, by, and with communities, both in teaching and in research. It is a great honour for UQAT to recognize exceptional people,” concluded Manon Champagne, the Vice Rector for Teaching, Research, and Creation.

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About UQAT’s medal of honour

UQAT’s medal of honour is for people who are outstanding because of their distinguished careers or their outstanding achievements, specifically their careers as academics, working people, or scientists or their achievements in society, culture, education, the arts, or humanitarian causes.

About the recipients

Tiili Alasuak
Tiili Alasuak began her work on the education committee of Puvirnituq back in the 1970s. She was a teacher at Iguarsivik School and then a pedagogical counselor from 1995 to 2008. She continued working as a pedagogical counselor at the new Ikaarvik School from 2008 to 2013. She sat on the co-management committee of the Comprehensive Educational Project until she retired in 2013. She was a key member. As a language specialist, she contributed to work on curricula in Inuktitut and on development of education vocabulary in Inuktitut. Tiili Alasuak also took part in Inuit teacher training by serving as a co-teacher with UQAT professors. In addition to this impressive record of involvement, she graduated from both of our university’s certificate programs for Preschool and Primary School Teaching in a Northern Environment. Tiili Alasuak has played a crucial role in giving direction to Inuit schools since the 1970s.

Aipilie Kenuajuak
Aipilie Kenuajuak was the principal of Iguarsivik School and then Ikaarvik School from 1983 to his retirement in 2014. Meanwhile he was an active member of the co-management committee for the Comprehensive Educational Project. Together with a Qallunaat math teacher, he developed and provided Inuit teachers with training activities in mathematics as a co-teacher, thereby helping to create a preliminary math curriculum for the students. Despite the time and energy needed for these commitments, he completed the certificate program for Preschool and Primary School Teaching in a Northern Environment and received his diploma. Aipilie Kenuajuak played a key role in developing education in his community by becoming one of the few Inuit school principals in Nunavik. He was a model for all of the teachers and students. He was also outstanding in his willingness to work with and be open to the other culture. He worked with Qallunaat to create strong working groups for teacher training and for administration of his school. Both of these achievements were widely admired throughout Nunavik.

Jani Mangiuk
Jani Mangiuk was a member of the Inuit movement Tungavingat Nunamini, which opposed the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement in the little community of Ivujivik. He was also active on the Ivujivik Education Committee and sat on the co-management committee for the Comprehensive Educational Project from 1984 to 1990. Jani Mangiuk played a major political role in establishing the Puvirnituq and Ivujivik education committees. He continued his work of defending the development of Inuit education as a commissioner with the Kativik School Board.

Gérald McKenzie
Gérald McKenzie was the principal of Puvirnituq School, Ivujivik School, and Salluit School from 1975 to 1978. Then, from 1978 to 1980, he was an advisor for the parents’ committees during the negotiations for the opening of the schools. He was the principal of the provincially run school of Puvirnituq and Ivujivik from 1980 to 1982, and then co-principal of IPUIT, which administered the dissident schools. He took part in the Puvirnituq-Ivujivik–UQAT group for co-management of training programs from 1984 to 1994. Gérald McKenzie was the resource person who provided the link between the education committee members and UQAT when they were looking for a university partner. His knowledge of the history of the development of Nunavik education and his wide-ranging and still ongoing work not only with its leaders but also with young Inuit have made him a valuable intermediary between academia and Inuit culture.

Gisèle Maheux
As a UQAT professor who was involved in development activities for small communities, Gisèle Maheux took part in meetings that followed the initial contact by our university’s representatives with the education committees in Puvirnituq and Ivujivik. She assumed the leadership of the co-management committee and responsibilities for training programs from 1984 to 2005, in addition to acting as an academic resource person for the courses. She helped to organize and develop different projects of the co-management committee with respect to training and curricula. Gisèle Maheux has also contributed for many years to a training development project with Temuco Catholic University in Chile. Through these training, development, and research activities with different Indigenous communities in the Americas (Inuit, Algonquin, Cree, Mapuche), she helped to train Indigenous teachers and develop education continuously throughout her career. Now a retired UQAT professor, she is still playing a major role as a mentor for new professors at our university, for students, and for technical and professional support staff who are today carrying out the mission of URFDEMIA.

Last update : 31 mai 2018