What is the overall impact of the initiative and how is this measured?
Goals of the Miqqut Model include:
- Increase literacy and essential skills
- Develop transferrable skills (for future employment)
- Increase participant confidence and self-esteem
- Build participants’ support networks
- Link participants to their community
- Increase and strengthen cultural practices
- Promote intergenerational knowledge exchange
- Revitalize Inuktitut (indigenous language)
- Connect Elders and Youth
Research shows the Miqqut model of culturally-based non-formal embedded literacy programs are more effective in developing language and literacy skills than conventional, stand-alone literacy programs. This is because literacy skill development is immediately relevant to participants’ purpose, interests, and activities. The learners themselves testify to life-changing outcomes as a result of participating in the non-formal cultural program.
The Miqqut model has shown to:
- Reinvigorate traditional Inuit intergenerational modes of learning
- Enhance participants’ ability and confidence in sharing and gaining information through oral and written communication and document use in both Inuktitut and English
- Support greater job and school readiness, including subsequent higher levels of engagement in formal education and the wage economy
- Improve confidence and pride in participants’ belief about their abilities
- Support greater happiness and healing
- Support Inunnguiniq (“Guiding the potential of the human spirit”); personal development in the areas of character development, life skills and making positive life choices
Another aspect of the Miqqut model is providing participants with opportunities to contribute to their community. In the sewing program, some of the clothes made are donated to widowed Elders, Search and Rescue Teams and/or children in need. Participants in the Culinary Arts Program prepared and served over 300 people through the local community soup kitchen. These activities help the participants to build resilience through meaningful contribution. They also give community members the opportunity to see participants in a new light; as responsible, hardworking, contributing community members.
- Programs on going since 2011
- Average number of participants per program: 12-15
- Total Number of participants:200+
- Number of projects: 4-month programs averages one per year plus multiple shorter programs per year.
- Completion rate: 95%
- Employment and education outcomes: 85% of participant who completed programs have moved on to employment or advanced education/training
What challenges have you faced and how were these overcome?
- Adapting and expanding the Miqqut model; It is difficult to find funding for non-formal literacy program rooted in Inuit culture.
- Need for Infrastructure resources: Resources such as facilities, equipment, tools and materials are difficult to secure. Most often these types of resources are provided by in-kind contributions from the community and other partners.
- Have more applicants than spaces in our programming. There is a demand for these programs and we don’t have the adequate resources to expand programming.
- Adequate and secure day care is an on-going issue for our participants, especially those involved in the longer 4-month programs.
What are 3 key lessons you learned from developing or delivering your initiative? What advice from those lessons would you share with others?
- Just go for it. If you have a good idea and are passionate about it take the risk and work to make it happen. You do not have to have everything worked out and all the details planned before starting. You will learn as you go and adapt as needed. Create the path as you walk it.
- You need to make friends. You will need the help and contributions of partners. You need to have community buy-in.
- Do not go into the programs with preconceived notions of what the participants need. The learning will go where the participants want to take it. Be flexible. Adapt. This is the beauty of non-formal learning. Everyone is a learner, everyone is a teacher.
What have participants, stakeholders and partners thought, felt and/or said about your initiative?
Victoria Kakuktinniq, a participant of the first ever pilot Miqqut project with embedded literacy and essential skills, has gone on to attend Marvel College for fashion and design and has since started her own business. A few years ago she received Business of the Year for Nunavut and also Indigenous Entrepreneur of the Year (which spanned all 3 territories). She continues to run a successful fashion business and boutique and will be coming on as an instructor for the upcoming Miqqut project in Iqaluit. She said she wants to instruct in the program that changed her life and gave so much to her. She wants to give back to others and help them get started.
Tara Green and Aqpa Tattuinee-Aulatjut, participants in a Miqqut program, went on to attend the Nunavut Teachers Education program and are now both teaching in the schools of Arviat and Rankin Inlet.
Lukisha Tatty, a participant of the Niqitsialiurniq program is now attending Holland College in PEI for culinary arts and has an apprenticeship with Agnico Eagle mines.
Incorporation of Essential Skills
Which Essential Skills are covered by the initiative?
Working with Others
How are the Essential Skills integrated into your initiative?
The Miqqut model addresses all the Work Place Essential Skills identified by the Government of Canada. It also recognizes and addresses Inuit essential skills such as sewing and traditional food preparations. These skills that are not only associated with traditional practices but are essential to survival and land based activities.
Essential Skills are explicitly integrated into culturally based activities. For example, the 4 month Miqqut non formal traditional sewing project is led by literacy instructors and elders who teach women how to process caribou and seal skins, which part of the skin to use for what purpose, and how to make sinew from caribou tendons.
Contextualized literacy and ES activities are intentionally embedded: participants documented the parts of the animals and different pattern pieces, and organized personal project portfolios that included the patterns, their notes on techniques, and other self-generated documents related. Time to journal and reflect on learning are integrated into participants’ daily program structure. Students are encouraged to continue with their sewing and market their products on Facebook.
In Culinary Arts programs participants learn computer skills by researching traditional and modern recipes and cooking methods via the Internet.
How do you assess participant Essential Skills?
Instructors and participants are interviewed at the beginning, end, and at the six-month post-program period to gather evaluative information and to compare learning and other outcomes for participants.
Participant skill and personal growth is assessed through instructor and contracted external evaluator observation. No formal assessment is done intentionally. Many participants find formal assessment intimidating. Non formal methods of assessment take the fear out of taking the risk of learning new skills.
What are the components of the initiative?
Cultural, language, and tradition awareness and/or training
How do you support participant success in the program?
Child care support
Food allowance and/or on-site meals
After program follow-up support
How was Indigenous culture integrated into the program content or delivery?
The Miqqut model is a culturally based model. It is rooted in Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, Inuit Societal Values. One of the major goals of the model is to reinvigorate traditional Inuit intergenerational modes of learning and to promote the revitalization, growth and continuation of Inuit culture.
Literacy and Essential Skills are intentionally embedded and taught through Inuit traditional activities. Elders are hired as program instructors. Programs are bilingual, delivered in both Inuktitut and English and programming is held in the participant’s local community, with the support of the community.
All programming, while teaching traditional skills, encourages people to bring their creativity and their personal perspective to cultural activities. This is especially true for youth programming. This integration of the modern and traditional perspective to cultural practices constantly revitalizes and grows the Inuit culture.
What do you think are the most important competencies and attributes for staff involved in this initiative to have?
Instructors or coordinators require training, mentoring, or other supports to effectively embed literacy skill development and to rigorously evaluate their programs. Investing in such training for managers, coordinators, and instructors result in increased learning opportunities and improved outcomes for participants.
Instructors need to be passionate and compassionate. They need to be hard working and have a desire to make a difference. As facilitators they need to be open, flexible and supportive with the ability to read learners’ needs and change direction as needed. They need to juggle their multiple roles and responsibilities and work collaboratively with participants, colleagues and partners.
Who are your partners, and what is their involvement in the initiative?
The primary funder of the original Miqqut research project was the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills, a branch of Human Resources and Social Development Canada. Additional support was provided by the Nunavut Department of Economic Development and Transportation through its arts development program and from Sakku First Aviation.
Current programs based on the Miqqut model are supported by different partners, dependent on the program and the community where they are held. These include partners such as the Mine Training Society, multiple Government of Nunavut departments and funding programs and various community partners. Community partners often provide in-kind support such as training facilities, equipment and tools and participant transportation.