This guest blog comes from Louise Flaherty, Director of Inuit Language and Culture Programs at Nunavut Arctic College. Louise holds a Master of Education degree from University of Prince Edward Island and is a founding member of Akuttujuuk, the Inuit Educators Research Network. She has conducted original research on Inuktitut learning and higher education, and has presented at national and international conferences including the Inuit Studies conferences in Washington, DC (2012) and Quebec City (2014), and the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education in Hawaii (2015). Louise believes that Inuit leadership in generating and applying research can lead to positive policy changes. In this guest blog, she explains why she facilitated almost all of the Language Division staff at the College to participate in this year’s Inuit Studies conference, and the impacts of their participation:

When I heard that Inuit Studies Conference would be closer to home at the end of the 2014 Inuit Studies Conference in Quebec City, I started planning to attend the conference with our Inuit Language and Culture Division. I committed to find the funds to bring them to conference, so that they could experience it and get a better idea of what research is all about.

Two or three of our Inuit Language & Culture staff had presented in a previous Inuit Studies Conference or other conferences, but not everyone knew what it was about. The 2016 conference was my third Inuit Studies conference and I had presented in both the 2012 and 2014 conferences.

At the last conference one fellow Inuk made a comment to me after a non-Inuk’s presentation that we should be talking about these kinds of issues. My response was, “Until we start doing research ourselves, other people will always do it for us.” She responded, “That is true.”

I have been trying to articulate the importance of research to our students and staff here at Nunavut Arctic College during their Research Methods courses especially. I have argued that research would be more meaningful if it were done with Inuit involvement. Research changes discourse, brings attention to issues, and affirms or contradicts hypotheses. I have seen the impacts these conferences can make to decision makers to change policy.

So, for the 2016 Inuit Studies conference in St. Johns, NL, I brought nine out of our ten staff from the Inuit Language division. The response was very positive. They gave research presentations and attended others’ presentations.

Throughout the conference, the staff exchanged discussions about presentations that they had attended and what they found to be worth attending. They also shared which presentations were not so great and why. Some of them already have ideas on what to present at the next Inuit Studies Conference.

It rejuvenated our staff to take on research initiatives and also to get involved in an academic conference. I think the conference made a wonderful impression in our Division.

The presentations and discussion questions from Inuit Language and Culture Division researchers, instructors, and staff from Nunavut Arctic College also impacted those who attended the sessions in which they participated.

The full program for the Inuit Studies Conference 2016, with research abstracts, can be found here:

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