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Local woman creates Inuit sharing boxes for area schools

Muckpaloo Ipeelie is working to create support for Inuit students by teaching their teachers and support workers about the Inuit way
Muckpaloo Ipeelie shows one of the Inuit sharing boxes she has prepared for schools around Simcoe County.

A Collingwood woman is working to raise IQ in Simcoe County schools. 

Muckpaloo Ipeelie is delivering Inuit sharing boxes she has prepared to Collingwood Collegiate Institute and other schools in the county with the goal of bringing Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit principles, also called IQ, forward. 

The 25 Inuit sharing boxes are filled with tools to help Indigenous support workers and teachers facilitate sharing in the Inuit way for Inuit and Indigenous students. 

Each box contains Inuit tea for sharing, a bannock recipe to share, a seal fur owl for a sensory connection to the north, information for funding for Inuit students attending post-secondary school, a brief explanation of the values of IQ, language resources, and other cultural resources. 

"For some, this might be their first time interacting with something Inuit-specific," said Ipeelie. 

Ipeelie, who is Inuk, said she was thinking about how to support Inuit students in the school system. While she attended school, she said there was nobody in the system who could offer help and support in the Inuit way. 

Had there been a sharing box and resources available like the ones Ipeelie has prepared, it would have made a difference. 

"It would have felt like a breath of fresh air," said Ipeelie. "I would have felt supported." 

She acknowledged the Simcoe County District School Board for covering the costs of the sharing boxes, and for working with her to distribute them to schools. 

"I think it's great that the board is acknowledging their role in moving toward truth and reconciliation in providing resources because that's an actionable item," said Ipeelie. "We still have to create a safe space for Inuit students to self-identify." 

While there are Indigenous support workers and teachers who have taken Indigenous culture classes, Ipeelie said many of those classes can present a pan-Indigenous viewpoint that doesn't include Indigenous diversity and the Inuit way. 

"Inuit do have a particular way of being," she said. "When interacting with Inuit students, [teachers and support workers] should know who we are."

Ipeelie is an Inuit cultural teacher and the owner and operator of The Urban Inuit Identity Project. 

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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