A very strong need for parenting support programs has been identified in Nunavut communities. The Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre is collaborating with the Nunavut Territorial Parenting Advisory Committee, Nunavut Literacy Council and a number of other stakeholders to develop, implement, and evaluate a culturally-appropriate parenting support program for Nunavummiut. This is 1 part of a 4-component programme of child and youth mental health and wellness research currently underway at Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre. The goal of this parenting component is to highlight the role of parents in supporting and raising healthy children and youth, and to develop, implement, and evaluate a parenting support program intervention in English and Inuktitut. That is grounded in Inuit ways of knowing and learning about childrearing.
Reviewing other programs
In 2010, a review of existing programs in Nunavut; Canada’s North; and other Circumpolar regions was undertaken to identify strengths, gaps and best practices. A literature review was completed, as well as a survey of groups of parents in different Nunavut communities; parenting program facilitators; and community members to identify key content areas for a parenting support program that meets the needs of Nunavummiut.
Developing a Model
The next phase of the project focused on the development of a parenting program model and curriculum that incorporates all of the best practices that have been identified. A strengths-based, empowerment model provides the foundation. This model formed the basis of the Inunnguiniq Parenting Program curriculum. The Inunnguiniq Parenting Program was created at our centre with the help of 2 former teachers and Nunavut curriculum writers (Shirley Tagalik and Marg Joyce), and with the help and support of the Elders Advisory Committee to the Dept. of Education. The Nunavut Literacy Council has also worked with us for the past year to make the materials work together as a set of curriculum and program documents that are accessible to everyone.
Key content areas for the curriculum include:
- healthy family nutrition;
- involvement of both parents in raising and guiding children;
- the importance of the land in overall family and community wellness;
- the importance of extended family in child-rearing;
- wellness counselling and healing from trauma;
- the stages of childhood development;
- Inuit perspectives on childrearing and ‘creating an able human being’ (Inunnguiniq);
- practical information grounded in Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit; communication and story-telling both for communicating with partners and with children;
- positive discipline;
- and exploration of self, one’s actions and reflection.
What makes Inunnguiniq different from other parenting programs?
The Inunnguiniq Parenting Program builds on the strengths of our communities, our relationships, resilience and love for our children. There are 3 central themes in the program that are unique to Inunnguiniq:
1) Acknowledging and creating space for discussion about healing from trauma;
2) Emphasis on Inuit knowledge, stories and perspectives related to childrearing; and
3) Emphasis on the role of extended family and community in the raising of children.
For example, the importance of naming and kinship (how people are related by name and how important Inuit naming traditions are) is a strong part of the curriculum, as well as the importance of including extended family in the raising
and teaching of children where appropriate. The curriculum also focuses on Pilimmaksarniq (child development and skill-building), Unikkaaqatigiinniq (storytelling), and many other sessions on raising children in today's communities.
Pilots of Inunnguiniq
The first phase of pilots took place in Winter 2012 with pilots taking place in 8 communities with the financial support of the Nunavut Dept. of Health. The pilots were evaluated and the program was revised based on the suggestions of
the facilitators and the parents.
In Fall 2013, the revised materials will be piloted in 4 communities in Nunavut and evaluated once again. This will be the final phase of pilots.
After the final revisions are complete, the program materials will be made available to Nunavummiut who wish to offer the program in 2014/15.