Inuit language celebration underway in Nunavut, Canada

(Eye on the Arctic)
(Eye on the Arctic)
An Inuit Language celebration is now underway in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut.

The annual event is held to promote and encourage the use of the Inuit language across the territory.

“Our language reflects the essence of who we are,” said Languages Commissioner Sandra Inutiq in a news release. “It is important we continue to learn it, use it and to remind ourselves of the importance of our language by celebrating it”

This year, the event runs February 17-28.

Inuit Circumpolar Council president on the importance of preserving  the Inuit language

The big picture

Though the Inuit language, like many of Canada’s First Nations languages, remains under threat,  it is still among the strongest.

In Canada’s 2011 census data on Aboriginal languages, Inuit dialects came in second among the top-three reported Aboriginal language families with 35,500 people.

Of those, 34,110 people reported Inuktitut as their mother tongue. The majority of those people lived Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut or in Canada’s predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec.

(The number one group was the Algonquian languages reported by 144,015. The Athapaskan languages came in third with 20,700 speakers.)

To find out more about Inuit Language Week in Nunavut, Eye on the Arctic’s Eilís Quinn spoke with Tocasie Burke, the Manager of Inuktitut Affairs in the Government of Nunavut:

Tocasie Burke, Manager of Inuktitut Affairs, Government of Nunavut. (Courtesy Tocasie Burke)
Tocasie Burke, Manager of Inuktitut Affairs, Government of Nunavut. (Courtesy Tocasie Burke)

Inuit language Resources from across the Arctic


Tusaalanga, An online Inuktitut learning program


Greenlandic – English Dictionary, Greenland Language Secretariat


Iñupiaq language teaching and learning resources and tools

Losing their Words: Can a pan-Inuit dialect help preserve the Inuit language in the Arctic

Related Links:

Uniting Voices:Inuit Language in Transition, Eye on the Arctic

Cheers for Alaska native language bill, Alaska Dispatch

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning 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 murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

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

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

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."

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