Nancy Mike and Andrew Morrison say it’s very important their daughters Viivi and Laivi learn Inuktitut so they will understand the feelings and dynamics of the family.

Nancy Mike and Andrew Morrison say it’s very important their daughters Viivi and Laivi learn Inuktitut so they will understand the feelings and dynamics of the family.
Photo Credit: Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC

Indigenous family bans English to preserve culture


Like many parents, Nancy Mike and Andrew Morrison have to work hard if they want to preserve their aboriginal language. Because so much English is spoken in Iqaluit in the northern territory of Nunavut, they have decided to ban English at home and oblige their two daughters to speak their native language of Inuktitut, reports CBC.

“Language is not just language; it’s the way you transmit culture,” said Mike to CBC reporter Sima Sahar Zerehi. Mike said she wanted to be certain the girls were able to speak to her unilingual grandfather and great-grandfather and to be close with the extended family.

Nancy Mike takes her daughters to her hometown of Pangnirtung in Nunavut to help them learn Inuktitut and Inuit tradition.
Nancy Mike takes her daughters to her hometown of Pangnirtung in Nunavut to help them learn Inuktitut and Inuit tradition. © submitted to CBC by Nancy Mike

English is everywhere

Preserving the language is difficult because English in books, movies, toys and movies is ubiquitous. Although the school system has an Inuktitut stream, materials are most often in English.

When Mike reads English books to her children she translates on the spot.

Total immersion with extended family

Four or five times a year she and her partner send their children to visit relatives in the more remote town of Pangnirtung where they can spend time with family and be totally immersed in their native language.

They also enjoy the lifestyle which includes spending more time on the land and eating what’s called country food—food hunted or gathered locally.

Categories: Indigenous, Society
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2 comments on “Indigenous family bans English to preserve culture
  1. Avatar Gangte Venbit says:

    So great to see this story! You are taking an important step in making sure Inuktitut lives on to the next generation. We hope that all those speaking an endangered language will take a similar path.

    Know that many of your endangered languages friends around the world are with you and wish you luck! We face similar struggles in our corner of the world, too. Our group’s next step is to create books for kids in our language, Gangte. It’s a language with only 15,000 speakers.

    As humans, we all need to cherish and protect our linguistic diversity. May all languages thrive!

    • Avatar Morne van der Merwe says:

      I’m glad to read such information. English did a lot of harm to languages and it needs to be reversed. English is not everything.