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Principals’ conference focuses on Safe and Caring Schools

Nunavut school principals and other education staff gathered to network, update their training and learn new skills in Iqaluit this past month.

The Nunavut Principals’ Conference ran from Sept. 21 to 27.

ICC facilitator Jukipa Kotierk leads Nunavut school administration and Education staff through the history of residential schooling and Canadian colonialism as it relates to the North, while Jacoposee Tiglik was also on site to provide emotional support and assist with creating a safe space to talk about difficult subjects during the Nunavut Principals’ Conference in Iqaluit from Sept. 21 to 27. Photo courtesy Department of Education

Principals from all regions attended the gathering focused on Safe and Caring Schools.

The principals learned a number of strategies for ensuring safe- and-caring schools in order to foster optimal academic, social-emotional and cultural growth.

John Arnalukjuak High School principal Don Peters of Arviat said for him, as a, experienced principal, the annual conference is a great time for all the principals to get together to really exchange ideas and have conversations about their schools.

He said during the conferences, the principals also have a chance to do their breakout sessions, during which they work strictly with their region’s principals.

“This year’s theme was Safe and Caring Schools, which is a very important topic that I know is backed by the Nunavut Teachers’ Association and a lot of principals have expressed an interest in covering these topics,” said Peters.

“This year we were very, very fortunate to have a presentation on the Shaker Method, which is a way of understanding the stressers that young students – and ourselves as individuals – go through and how we can respond to help our students when they’re in crisis.

“Part of the Shaker Method is to try and understand the reasons why youth may self-injure, and we looked at practical strategies on how to identify and provide support to those type of children who are involved with self-injury.

“The idea is to give principals some tools to identify stressers that trigger students, and ourselves really, into situations that can become uncontrollable for people.

“None of us are really experts or clinical in that field, but it did give us, I think, some tools to help make the schools more safe and caring and, as an administrator, we can go back to the schools and have conversations with our teachers to, maybe, be a little bit more aware of the stresses that are involved in a student’s everyday life.”

Peters said another part of the annual conference saw the principals discuss child sexual abuse and its prevention.

He said that was another session that had everyone really wanting the chance to have a conversation on the topic.

“We do workshops on it all the time, but it was great to have a perspective on how it affects the school, itself, from an administrative point of view.

“Those were the main topics we had this year and they were all beneficial.”

Peters said Kivalliq principals conduct a mini regional conference the week before the annual territorial conference.

He said he found this year’s regional session to be quite good, as well.