I went to Kangiqsujuaq to be responsible for three jobs. I was to be a teacher, principal and Local Administrator.
The school had only been open for five years. The average age in my classroom was 15 . These kids did not start school until they were about ten years old. They had done well in five years. They spoke English very well. In fact, I'm surprised how well they spoke as they started school knowing very little English. They did well in reading. However, when I took over they were doing gr. 4 -6 work. The materials were all southern urban based. This did not have much meaning for these kids. Now that iIlook back at it, these kids should have been working at a much higher level. The education system seems to pigeon hole kids and keep them there.
Most evenings I went back to the school to do preparations. I usually had lots of kids who dropped in for a few minutes. They also taught me many things. They told me who their wives were. There were arranged marriages. They told me about all the different spirits there were and that these spirits were real. That really bends your mind.
These kids were not keen about going to school. They couldn't see any direct benefit to an education. They were used to very irregular hours. For example, they had no set bedtime or mealtime. Kids with little sleep or no breakfast don't do well. A breakfast program had been started before I came. so the kids came for breakfast. It was a way to get them to school. We also had a wash and tooth brushing routine. Then we started school. In spite of this it was difficult to get kids to attend regularly.Their parents found it difficult to support school.
Looking back these kids got a smattering of education and lost their independence by not learning to hunt and live off the land.
The local administrator job was most interesting and I was able to see some progress. After school every day I had a one hour time when people could come and see me. I had a soapstone carving project supervised by the government. The government gave me $2000.00 per month to by soapstone carvings so most days several people were there to sell carvings. I also gave out social assistance. Nobody was on a set monthly allowance. They came when they needed something. Usually they asked for ten to twenty dollars. Most of the time I gave them ten gallons of gas to go hunting.
We also had some community social events such as dances and Christmas celebrations. Baked beans and buns for a Christmas celebration! It was much appreciated.
Alcohol was a problem. They made their own with raisins. There were times when I was called that somebody was fighting. I did not go down to break up the fight as probably both fighters would turn on me. I never saw evidence of damage from these fights.
I had one employee who looked after the mechanical things. We had a diesel generator to produce electricity. In fact there were two generators for safety.
Ernie was my man and what a character. Ernie was a rural French Canadian. He joined the army and purposely chose an English division as he wanted to learn English. He did not know one word of English. One funny story. The troops were lined up and they asked for a volunteer. Ernie said yes in a loud voice. They wanted someone to type and Ernie had never seen a typewriter before!
I found that I was very busy with this routine. It was interesting but the load was too heavy.