Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 62

62 Arctic Yearbook 2014 understanding the local implications of colonization and residential schools. Scholar Taiaiake Alfred reminds us that all of the world’s big problems are in reality very small and local problems. As he puts it, confronting colonialism is a personal, and in some ways, a mundane process (2009). With Alfred’s idea in mind, the students’ small, but meaningful actions have the potential to build momentum for just and peaceful change (Regan 2010). Conclusion The territorial pilot study has demonstrated that to teach students difficult history and prepare them to solve contemporary problems, efforts must go beyond simply producing learning materials for classroom use. Well planned and thorough teacher training, evaluative research, subsequent revision and follow up support, as well as setting courses as mandatory for all students, are all critical steps in enabling students to reach key learning objectives. Changes made from the first edition module pilot to the second edition are meeting learning objectives more effectively. The revised second edition module shows encouraging potential for NWT and Nunavut teachers to become more confident in supporting their students’ learning. Use of these materials in classrooms are providing teachers with professional satisfaction and growth, and are developing students’ capacities to participate in society as thoughtful, critical and aware citizens. “Canada must acknowledge its past history of shameful treatment of aboriginal peoples,” said Inuk leader John Amagoalik. “It must acknowledge its racist legacy. It should not only acknowledge these facts, but also take steps to make sure that the country’s history books reflect these realities,” (2008: 93). By devoting 25 hours of mandatory class time for every high school student in the NWT and Nunavut to learning about residential schools, the territories have taken up Amagoalik’s challenge. Other jurisdictions are following suit with the production of their own materials for the classroom, including Alberta, Yukon and Ontario. If George Orwell was correct that “those who control the past control the future,” (1949: 37) we face a great risk if we do not educate youth about Canada’s brutal history. By failing to pass on the lessons we have learned, we are opting out of crucial conversations about democracy and human rights. Through this module, students learn that democracy is fragile. Even at the heart of what we persuade ourselves is a just society, basic human rights can be denied as they were by residential schools and assimilation policies. A healthy democracy, which respects human rights, is dependent on the responsible participation of citizens, lead by young people who are equipped to think critically and empowered to act. This is particularly important in a rapidly developing environment like Canada’s North, where the ability to cooperate across sectors and beyond borders is likely to become a necessity. Discussions of controversial issues in the classroom are not easy but are a crucial step in preparing Northern students for new economic, technological and environmental challenges. The territorial module builds compassion and enhances critical thinking amongst students. Equipped with stronger critical thinking skills, territorial students will be better positioned to shape the future in a globalized, rapidly changing, and challenging Arctic. Daitch