Language in Shades of Grey


Weather: -20c and clear skies …as usual, what’s happened to all the blizzards and –40c temperatures everyone’s been warning us about?!?

IQALUIT, NUNAVUT – Today was the last day of the Nunavut Language Conference. It was also the day that most participants flew back home to their communities. And to tell the truth, I’m really sad to see the weekend.

There was a lot of pain expressed in the meetings and workshops I covered. But despite that, there was also a lot of passion and a lot of fight in each and every room – especially in the youth workshops.

I think it was the teenagers that surprised me most this entire week. No matter what their background or level of proficiency in Inuktitut, not one of them saw the issue of language preservation in the North in black and white.

In fact, in contrast to a lot of the adults I spoke with, the teenagers seemed to see the entire issue in shades of grey.

They gave me some of the most thoughtful and engaging interviews of the entire week.

And I’m sure that among them, there’s at least a couple of future Nunavut premiers, if not a future Canadian prime minister.

They really were that impressive. (Yes, Eric, Heather, Otto and Sara, I’m talking about you guys!)

I don’t know what it will take to revive Inuktitut in the North, but the impression I’m left with after this conference is this: people from all different ages, regions, communities and social status do seem to care.

I have a feeling, that someday, they just might be able to turn it around.

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is a journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project.

Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the violent death of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on violence and trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

Twitter: @Arctic_EQ

Email: eilis.quinn(at)

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