Located on the eastern shore of Hudson Bay in northern Québec, Puvirnituq is home to Ikaarvik primary school. In the 2nd grade, 15 students aged seven and eight years old are broadening their overall knowledge in their native language. “I teach every subject in Inuktitut,” enthusiastically explains Marie-Carole Qinuajuak.

A teacher for five years, she is proud that the children learn in Inuktitut from kindergarten to grade 2. “My biggest dream was to work at protecting my cultural heritage, particularly my language1.”

Culture is alive and strong in her community and the Puvirnituq Snow Festival is a testament to it. Taking place every two years, the festival is a one-week school break for the kids during which Inuit traditions are celebrated, notably through the sculpture contest where legends come to life.

Marie-Carole Qinuajuak

A shared relationship  

In school, relationships between teaching colleagues are essential. “Our breaks are an important time to share our experiences,” says Marie-Carole Qinuajuak.

“My biggest dream was to work at protecting my cultural heritage, particularly my language.”

Actively engaged in her school, the teacher has also been a union delegate for four years. “My colleagues voted for me,” she says. “I still have a lot to learn about the collective agreement and union rules, but it’s not too hard since there are so few issues at Ikaarvik and our relationship with the administration is good.”

Marie-Carole Qinuajuak confides wanting to continue her union involvement if the members want her to. She believes in her role and her union, the AENQ-CSQ2. “It’s important to defend the rights of teachers, support them and speak for them.”

1 2019 is the Year of Indigenous Languages, a UNESCO initiative
2 Association of Employees of Northern Québec