Seeing Like a Community: Education, Citizenship, and Social Change in the Eastern Arctic

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Kennedy, Sheena Letitia




Relying heavily on the analyses of Inuit, this dissertation examines the implications of the historical and contemporary set of Inuit-state relations in one policy area - education - over a long period of time. It undertakes this examination by analyzing the local state and societal responses to the introduction of political, social and economic institutions that were imported from southern Canada and imposed on the Inuit societies of the Eastern Arctic.

It is well known that formal schooling was used as a key instrument of colonial intervention and oppression in the Eastern Arctic, and that the legacies of this intervention continue to effect communities today. At the same time, education is often identified as an essential component of Inuit self-determination. Despite 50 years of increased political control by Inuit over education, including the creation of a "made-in- Nunavut" education system, educational outcomes have not improved dramatically, Inuit continue to call for greater local control, and the school is still seen by many to be a foreign institution.

This dissertation argues that the persistent problems with the school system are symptoms of a deeper disconnect between citizens and the institutions that structure their daily lives. Building on Scott (1998) it argues that the enduring focus on the issue of local control over the education system in Nunavut is evidence of an implicit recognition by Inuit of the importance of intermediary social institutions for successful institution- and state-building.

This dissertation uses qualitative methods and a multi-scalar analysis that moves between federal and territorial politics and policy on education, and a detailed microlevel examination of Igloolik society in order to explore and understand the nuances and lived-experiences of the people - the citizens - who were (and remain) directly affected by political and policy decisions made elsewhere. These experiences and lessons from Igloolik then inform an analysis of contemporary attempts by the Government of Nunavut to institute a system of education to meet the aspirations for Nunavut.


Political Science
Education - History of




Carleton University

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Public Policy

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Theses and Dissertations

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