Makivvik and Avataq sign MOU to strengthen Inuktitut in Nunavik

A view of Puvirnituq, a Nunavik community on the Hudson Bay coast of Quebec. (Eilis Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

Makivvik and Avataq signed an MOU on Tuesday to strengthen Inuktitut in Nunavik, saying it will provide the financial resources necessary to start implementation on several long-planned initiatives.

No one from Avataq could be reached for details about the agreement Tuesday afternoon, but in a news release, they said the MoU would allow Avataq to access up to $36-million  for Nunavik language projects over the next five years.

“Putting my signature on a document that will turn hundreds of years of language suppression and change course towards revitalizing Inuktitut is a proud moment,” Avataq President William Tagoona, said in a joint statement with Makivvik.

“I give honour to Makivvik for giving us unprecedented remarkable support. Now our language experts in Nunavik can begin to do their work.”

 Inuktitut Language Authority, Inuit Heritage Centers  amongst priorities

 Avataq says it has a five-year plan focused on the “preservation, revitalization, promotion and strengthening” of Inuktitut in Nunavik. 

The joint statement says the MoU will have both organizations meet at least once a year to discuss language priorities for the region.

The Makivik office in the Nunavik community of Kuujjuaq, Quebec. “Preserving and strengthening Inuktitut is a major priority for Makivvik and these funds will be the first step in safeguarding our language, a major pillar of our culture and identity,” Makivvik President Pita Aatami said. (Eilis Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

“Avataq’s work creating this 5-year plan is encouraging and paves the path forward in the preservation of Inuktitut in Nunavik,” said Pita Aatami, the president of Makivvik, the organization that represents in the interests of Inuit in Nunavik.

The creation of an Inuktitut Language Authority and development of Inuit Heritage Centers in Nunavik will be among the main focuses over the next five years. 

The percentage of the population that could speak the Inuit language in Inuit areas of Canada went down in all regions except Nunavik according to the 2021 census.

The 2021 census also found that Nunavik had the largest percentage of Inuktitut speakers per population, with 98 per cent of children able to speak the language.

Zebedee Nungak, Avataq’s language director and specialist, said the region needs to mobilize its resources to prevent erosion of the language.

“The survival of our Inuktitut language is at a crossroads. We can either take the present course, which leads to its extinction, or turn course now towards a path that guarantees its survival.”

Write to Eilís Quinn at 

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Inuttitut language revitalization campaign underway in Labrador Inuit region, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Everyone encouraged to boost Sami language visibility in Finland, Norway and Sweden this week, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Indigenous and minority language names for Norway now have official status, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: German project to house everything published in Siberian and Arctic languages to seek new funding, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Can cross-border cooperation help decolonize Sami-language education, Eye on the Arctic 

United States: Inuit leaders applaud UN move to designate International Decade of Indigenous Languages, Eye on the Arctic

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