Inuit language celebration underway in Nunavut, Canada

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(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

Canada:

Tusaalanga, An online Inuktitut learning program

Greenland:

Greenlandic – English Dictionary, Greenland Language Secretariat

Alaska:

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

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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)cbc.ca

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