Incorporating Culture in the Curriculum: The Concept of Probability in Nunavik Inuit Culture

  • Annie Savard McGill University
  • Dominic Manuel McGill University
  • Terry Wan Jung Lin McGill University
Keywords: Inuit traditional culture, probability, learning situation, ethnomathematical model


Traditionally, Canadian Inuit have lived in the circumpolar regions of Canada and those who still live in these regions, have their own cultures, which they tend to celebrate in their educational curricula. Inuit culture reflects their traditional lifestyle, when they were  nomadic, and hunted and fished to survive in incredibly difficult conditions. These cultural differences present many challenges and issues to some mathematical concepts; for instance, for Nunavik Inuit, the concept of probability has no formal definition and it does not take the same meaning as in conventional mathematics. This misalignment could cause negative effects on students’ learning. Looking to bridge the gap between those two different cultural meanings, the principal investigator, Annie Savard, with the assistance of Inuit educators designed learning situations  based on the traditional Inuit culture. We used an  ethnomathematical model (Savard, 2008b) to frame the learning situations created. In this article, we present the learning situations created that aimed to bridge Nunavik Inuit culture and the development of probabilistic reasoning and we discuss how these learning situations supported students’ mathematical understanding and cultural identity.

Keywords: Nunavik Inuit traditional culture; probability; learning situation
ethnomathematical model