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Making sense of the experience of family, school and community life among youths and teachers in Nunavik

Tatiana Garakani

Aboriginal families have suffered transformations and long-term disruptions following the nefarious effects of colonialism, forced relocation and residential schools. Despite many efforts and considerable steps forward, the aftermath is still felt in communities.
Based on participatory research in Nunavik, we examine the expressions of family, community, the Inuktitut language and Inuit culture as well as of the topic of identity and visions of the future in the statements of Inuit students and teachers. The scope of this study, which was carried out over three years, allowed us to maintain a continuous presence in the school and the community and to thus foster relationships based on trust. It also allowed time for the youths and the teachers to participate and contribute according to their own rhythm and preferences.
The students we spoke with express feelings of living at the intersection of two worlds (Inuit and non-Inuit). They try to strike a balance while asserting their language and their culture, and they share the same fears as the adults do concerning the future of their community. Furthermore, their inability to fully master Inuktitut prevents them from developing significant relationships with the elders. Teachers and students alike want to see more commitment on the part of families and the community.