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Students in Inuvik, N.W.T., schooled in local land claims

'It's a living document — they should learn what it's all about,' says Inuvialuit elder Gerry Kisoun

Dez Loreen - CBC News

Students at Inuvik's East Three Secondary School learned from local experts about land claims. (Dez Loreen/CBC)

A new program in Inuvik, N.W.T., is teaching students about local land claims.

A social studies class at the East Three Secondary School was the first to take the program.

Diane Baxter, the Gwich'in Tribal Council's senior implementation adviser, and Inuvialuit elder Gerry Kisoun were invited to the class to speak with the students.

Baxter spoke about the Gwich'in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement. Kisoun was able to talk with the class about the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.

"Making it relevant for the students was really important," said social studies teacher Ethan Lavoie.

Lavoie explained the students were able to make their own set of questions for each visitor to ask about the two local land claims.

Kisoun said he is passionate about the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.

"Their parents, their grandparents, their great-grandparents were some of those that sat at that table to help negotiate it," said Kisoun.

"I think it's very important for those students to understand and get better knowledge of what that land claim is. It's a living document — they should learn what it's all about."

The school says the program came from a public suggestion to learn about the local land claims.

Cole Fiedler works for the Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council.

"One of the calls to action they had for us as a school board was to learn about the local land claims," said Fiedler.

"They wanted it outside of just the Northern Studies class."

Work began to create the program. Steve Dagar, Lavoie and Fiedler reached out to the community to find their local experts and build the framework for what the students would learn.

"We did a bunch of background research with the students on our own," said Fiedler.

The students prepared for the visits by learning about local politics like the Berger Inquiry and history of the region.



"That local contact is what they connect to and what's actually important to them," said Fiedler.

"They are hearing from people that either have studied this for the majority of their life and had personal stake in it, like Diane, or primary sources that were actually around when the land claim was signed, like Gerry Kisoun."

The program will be brought back to the next semester's social studies class.


Dez Loreen

Dez Loreen is a reporter with CBC North in Inuvik.