CULTURE AND COMMUNICATION REPORT
Both Inuit and non-Inuit workers are expected to begin working as Northern social workers without proper orientation, since there is little training offered between the time they are hired and the time they begin to take on responsibilities. The professional and cultural difficulties they face are great and their supervisors and the community have high expectations. In addition, there is not enough opportunity for on-going training or professional development, and insufficient support from other resources in the community. As a result, workers are not able to perform their professional responsibilities as well as they might and many problems arise. Finally, the hard work and emotional pain the workers must endure often goes unacknowledged and apparently unappreciated, which leads to low morale and burn-out. These three aspects of the overall problem are described separately below.
For non-Inuit workers, the local customs and culture are new and unfamiliar. Their sense of being outsiders or strangers is strong, and they often feel less useful or helpful than they would like to be. Although the non-Inuit workers often have formal training, they have little or no experience in the North and cannot speak Inuktitut. They must often speak to clients through a translator. In the end, they feel a distance between themselves and their clients. Just as important, they feel a distance from their Inuit colleagues, and that makes working together difficult.
Inuit workers have extensive experience with the community, but lack professional training. As a result, they are very familiar with the problems their clients face but unprepared to handle those problems in the ways expected by supervisors. Consequently, they often feel inadequate, especially with supervisors and non-Inuit workers, and many resign their jobs. Although some initial information is supplied in written texts, it is often difficult to relate that material to real life in the community.
Both Inuit and non-Inuit workers must act in accordance with the laws concerning Youth Protection and the Young Offenders Act, but are often unfamiliar with those laws and their local implications. This can lead to dangerous situations.
If Inuit and non-Inuit workers are given more extensive orientation and initial training, they will be more effective both immediately and in the long run, as