Fonds 309 - Northwest Territories. Department of Education fonds

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Northwest Territories. Department of Education fonds

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  • Multiple media

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  • 1959-1993 (Creation)
    Northwest Territories. Department of Education (1969-1992)

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Physical description

3,950 photographs, 29.7 m of textual material and other material

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Administrative history

Before the transfer of government to Yellowknife in 1967, the Federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) held the responsibility for education in the Northwest Territories. Upon the creation of a Territorial government, a Department of Education was established under the direction of B. C. Gillie and education functions were gradually transferred from the Federal Government. On April 1, 1969, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) assumed the responsibility for education in the Mackenzie District and took over the responsibility in the Eastern Arctic on April 1, 1970.

The function of the Department of Education was the provision of education and training programs and facilities in the Northwest Territories. Its main responsibilities were to provide primary, elementary, and secondary education for school age children and technical, vocational, business, and post-secondary programs as well as literacy, upgrading and life skills for adults. In addition, residential accommodations were provided to students continuing their schooling beyond the level provided in their community and funding was provided for students who had to leave the Northwest Territories to pursue higher education. Funding for the education function was provided through financial agreements between the GNWT and the Federal Government.

Initially education programs were directed from the headquarters in Yellowknife and supported by four regional offices located in Fort Smith, Inuvik, Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit), and Churchill, Manitoba, then the regional centre for the Keewatin. Headquarters administration was responsible for planning, guidance, curriculum development, recruitment, staff training and administrative support services for the education program. In 1972, the results of an in house Survey of Education were released containing some 200 recommendations from Northwest Territories teachers. These recommendations studied by the Council's Special Committee on Education were considered in developing a new Education Ordinance, which became law on August 1, 1977. The Ordinance, replacing the Federal Ordinance of 1956, emphasized decentralization and devolution by providing more autonomy to regional superintendents and more control to elected local education authorities (LEAs), although the final authority for education remained with the Commissioner. The legislation established three levels of authority responsible for education: 1) Local or Community Education Authorities; 2) Education Societies; and 3) Boards of Education. Local Advisory Boards or Committees existed in many communities prior to creation of the Ordinance, providing primarily an advisory role, though some were responsible for Cultural Inclusion Programs, managing Committee funding, and hiring of local personnel for classroom assistants. The Act passed into law this department policy of community involvement and defined responsibilities. LEAs consisting of 4 elected members and one member appointed by the local municipal council were now responsible for advising the superintendent and the principal on school programs and administration for their education district. The boundaries of an education district usually coincided with the boundaries of a hamlet, town, village or settlement and several education districts comprised each of the five administrative regions of the Northwest Territories. For each region, a regional superintendent, under the advice of LEAs within that region, was responsible for assessing needs, establishing systems for evaluating programs and educators, and implementing education programs within the goals, objectives and standards set by the departmental administration. These regional superintendents were under the overall direction of regional directors. A petition from the community could achieve an Education Society, which was the next level of authority. These societies held greater responsibilities and were in charge of their own budgets, and the hiring and firing of all employees. The third level, autonomous Boards of Education, employed their own staff including a Superintendent of Education. As there was a tax-based financial requirement for the creation of Boards of Education, the boards were limited to the Yellowknife Public School Board, District #1 and the Yellowknife Separate School Board, District #2.

In 1982, with the formal establishment of Ministerial government in the GNWT, policy was set by the Minister, with the advice of the Deputy Minister in regard to goals, objectives and standards of education. After two years of community consultation, the final report of the Legislative Assembly's Special Committee on Education 'Learning, Tradition and Change in the Northwest Territories' was presented in March of 1982. Recommendations included the provision of further control over education at the community or regional level. An amendment to the Education Ordinance followed in 1983 permitting the formation of Education Divisions, and the creation of Divisional Boards of Education to administer schools within their region. A Divisional Board could be established by the submission of a petition to the minister from CECs or LEAs requesting that a division be formed. The Baffin Region Divisional Board of Education became the first operational divisional board in 1985 and by 1991, there were divisional boards in all regions. These boards were responsible for administration and maintenance of funding, selecting and providing direction to superintendents and teachers, and determining education objectives for each region. Schools lacking a divisional board were grouped into the administration regions under the supervision of the Regional Superintendent of Education and provided with administrative and program support. As Primary to Grade 12 education program delivery was assumed by Divisional and School Boards and advanced education program delivery assumed by the Arctic College Board, the supporting role of the Department of Education's administration changed. More and more direction came from legislation and policy. In 1986, the Arctic College Act was passed, which supplied a statutory basis for college operations and the College Board of Governors that had been appointed in 1982.

Although divisions, sections and their responsibilities altered with repeated reorganization of the Department of Education, the functions provided can be generally grouped into 4 main activities: Administration, Schools, Continuing, Special and Adult Education, and Pupil Residences.

1)The Administration activity, later called the Directorate, was responsible for the development and recommendation of education policy to the Minister, and determining goals, objectives and standards. It provided financial management, capital planning, recruitment, staff training, and administrative support services for the total education program. In the early years of the department, administration was also responsible for curriculum development and linguistic services.

2) The Schools activity was responsible for in-school programs (curriculum) grades 1 to 12, and provision of guidance to the school districts. It was initially responsible for special education and occupational in-school training, functions later handled by the Continuing, Special and Advanced education activity.

3) Continuing, Special and Advanced Education activity was initially composed of the planning, development and implementation of non-university programming including upgrading, apprenticeship, technical and on-the-job training, life skills, general interest courses and rehabilitation programs for special needs students. Eventually greater focus was placed on advanced education, with the establishment of the Fort Smith Adult Vocational Training Centre, later to evolve into the Arctic College, offering vocational, technical, business programs and academic upgrading courses on campus and through extension programs.

4) The Pupil Residences activity consisted of the planning, guidance and operation of student residences, as well as supervision and financial support to local boarding houses and private boarding institutions providing student accommodations. Accommodations would be provided for students continuing their education beyond the level provided in their community, and for students whose parents were required to be away for extended periods of time. The residences could be operated either by the GNWT or under contract with the Anglican or Catholic churches. By 1976, the operation of some student residences was being turned over to specially authorized community groups.

The structure and organization of the Department of Education was altered repeatedly during its existence. In 1977 it was organized into 4 divisions: 1) Recruitment, Personnel and Staff Training; 2) Education programs and Evaluation; 3) Linguistic programs; and 4) Finance, Research and Planning. In 1980, the department restructured into two main branches in response to departmental growth, decentralization, the recommendations of the Committee Task Force on Administration, and a departmental paper 'Direction for 1980's." The branches: 1) Education programs and Evaluation Branch and 2) Support Services Branch were each headed by an Assistant Deputy Minister. The Programs and Evaluation Branch was responsible for needs assessment, program development, and evaluation of all instructional programs for school children and adults. The Support Services Branch was responsible for higher education programs, finance and planning, school buildings, education personnel, legislation and policy development, and student grants and bursaries. Another reorganization in 1985 created: a Policy and Program Evaluation section that was responsible for overall planning and evaluation of education and the co-ordination of legislation and policy development; and combined employment and apprenticeship programs into one division.

In August of 1992, the Department of Education, amalgamated with programs from the Department of Culture and Communications to create the Department of Education, Culture and Employment.

Custodial history

Scope and content

This fonds consists of approximately 3,950 photographs in slide, print and negative formats, approximately 29.7 meters of textual material, 2 reels of microfilm, 1 audiocassette and 1 video reel. Approximately 450 photographs depict school facilities across the Northwest Territories, as well as other community buildings from the Northwest Territories, such as hospitals and churches. The remaining photographs are from the School Program and Development Division or the School Support Division. The collection from the School Program and Development Division consists of approximately 1,944 35-mm negatives, 138 slide images and approximately 828 reproductions of archival images. The communities of Fort McPherson, Fort Smith and Fort Franklin are represented, as well as images of elders, traditional games and activities. The reproductions of the archival images include photographs of the Perry Expedition, as well as images from the Department of Interior-Yukon and Northwest Territories Branch, which consist of images from throughout the arctic, primarily from the Keewatin Region. The images from the School Support Division consists of 871 slides that depict the following communities: Inuvik , Trout Lake, Jean Marie River, Snare Lake, Yellowknife, Fort Wrigley, Rae Edzo, Tuktoyaktuk, Tungsten, Fort Franklin, Coral Harbour, Pelly Bay, Coppermine, Pine Point, and Hay River. In addition, there are 80 slides with an accompanying audio cassette and manual from a unit entitled "Our Students, Our Future: Shaping Education in the NWT." This unit was developed in 1990 and includes images that depict students and education related activities in the Northwest Territories. Furthermore, there are 64 black and white photographs with accompanying negatives of historic buildings and sites in Fort Smith. The photographs were taken in 1986 by Chris Hanks, Sub arctic Archaeologist for the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre while he delivered an anthropology course for the Renewable Resources Technology Program at Thebacha College in Fort Smith.

The textual records generated by the Administration Division, later renamed the Directorate, consist of material dated between 1966-1989. These records consist of policy and planning files, Board of Education files, correspondence, service agreements between the department and school boards, finance reports from residential schools and school boards, reports on hearing impairment, school health projects and special needs, in addition to various committee reports and general language files. There are also files from the Baffin Board of Education, Fort Smith Region, Kitikmeot Region Education Association and the Keewatin Region Education Authority.

The bulk of the textual material was created and/or accumulated by the School Programs Development section and its predecessors the Program Services, Programs and Evaluations Branch, Education Programs and Evaluation and Linguistic Programs, which were all part of the Administration and Directorate Division, Department of Education. The records consist of administrative files, correspondence, committee reports, policy and planning files, reports and minutes from meetings; Special Education records, School program files and Linguistic program files, including workbooks, readers and curriculum material. In addition, there are records from the Assistant Director of Education regarding school policy, procedures and directives, Inuit education, pupil residences and vocational training. There are also records and files from the following: Continuing and Special Education Division, including files from Adult Education, Apprenticeship Training, Life Skills, Home Management, Vocational Training for the Handicapped, and Social and Housing Education; Advanced Education division, including files regarding the In-Service Training Program and literacy promotion; records from the Tree of Peace adult education program; records from the Director of Education; Education Recruitment; and the Professional Improvement Committee. The remaining textual material is from the Central Registry and consists of files from the Director of Education (70 block), School Programs (72 block), School Services (73 block) and College and Continuing Education (75 block). The records from the Director of Education includes files on general education, curriculum development, teacher training, conferences, aboriginal language courses, school policy, schools and residences and Superintendent of Education files for the regions. The records from School Programs and School Services consist of correspondence, publications, policies and procedures relating to school programs, curriculum, teacher evaluations, conferences and school services files. The records from the College and Continuing Education Services relate to adult education centres and programs, vocational programs, continuing and special education, group courses, conferences and workshops. In addition, there are two microfilm reels containing records from the Central Registry from the following program areas: Director of Education (70 block) and Assistant Director of Education (71 block).

This fonds also includes daily student attendance records from St. Patrick's Separate School and Sir John Franklin High School that date between 1953-1970 and were transferred directly from the schools in 1980, Treaty Member and Inuit Identification Lists, miscellaneous reports, publications and one video reel documenting "Life in a Student Residence, Grollier Hall, 1976."

This fonds also includes approximately 2 meters of published reports, curriculum resources, teaching guides, newsletters, magazines, pamphlets, published anthologies, manuals, education kits, storybooks, workbooks and handbooks created by the Department of Education dating from 1973 to 1993. The material covers a wide range of topics including teaching aides for elementary school children (workbooks, storybooks, teaching guides, kits, etc.), a large collection of Pik magazines, brochures and kits on child abuse, sexual assault and alcohol and drug awareness, apprenticeship brochures, nutrition guides and a children's cookbook, curriculum guides on science, civics, social studies and health, a needs assessment report on alternative programs for special needs, a review of Akaitcho Hall, a report on the 1971 Olympiada event, and many aboriginal language storybook readers. There is also a Social and Housing Education Program in the Mackenzie District summary from 1969.

Notes area

Physical condition


Language of material

  • English
  • Inuktitut

Script of material

  • Latin

Language and script note

G-1992-020, G-1995-002, and G-2022-024 contain material that is written in Inuktitut, South Slavey, Slavey, Tlicho, Gwich'in, French, Cree and Chipewyan.

Location of originals

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Restrictions on access

Access restricted under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

Finding aids in various formats available; see accessions for details.

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Physical description

4300 photographs: b&w and col., slides, negatives, prints; 2 reels of microfilm; ca. 29.7 meters of textual material; 1 video reel and 1 audio cassette.


Copyright held by the Government of the Northwest Territories.

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  • English

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