Agencies agree on $36M, 5-year plan to boost Inuktitut in Nunavik

Choice is ‘extinction’ of the language in Nunavik or new course that guarantees survival, Avataq official says

Avataq Cultural Institute president William Tagoona, front left, and Makivvik Corp. president Pita Aatami, front right, sign a memorandum of understanding to support the preservation of Inuktitut in Nunavik communities. (Photo courtesy of Makivvik Corporation)

By Cedric Gallant
Special to Nunatsiaq News

There is a new plan to spend $36 million over five years to support Inuktitut language work in 15 Nunavik Inuit communities.

Representatives for Makivvik Corp. and the Avataq Cultural Institute signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday at the Uqausivut Illirijavut conference in Montreal.

Avataq hosted the conference to look at ways to support Inuktitut.

Makivvik secured $14 million for the project through Heritage Canada’s Indigenous Language Component program. The remaining $22 million is to be provided by Makivvik Corp. between 2024 and 2028.

With the funding, the Avataq Cultural Institute plans to implement language initiatives based on its decades of research.

“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,” said William Tagoona, Avataq president, in a news release announcing the signing.

“Now, our language experts in Nunavik can begin their work.”

This funding plan is a response to the Illirijavut: That Which We Treasure report, published by Zebedee Nungak and Adamie Kalingo in 2012.

The report includes recommendations such as creating an Inuktitut Language Authority and supporting development of Inuit Heritage Centres across Nunavik.

The memorandum of understanding, although not a legally binding document, commits both parties to meet every year to discuss preserving Inuktitut in Nunavik.

“Preserving and strengthening Inuktitut is a major priority for Makivvik,” said Makivvik president Pita Aatami in the release.

He called the funding plan “the first step in safeguarding our language, a major pillar of our culture and identity.”

Avataq language director Zebedee Nungak said the survival of Inuktitut is at a crossroads.

“We can either take the present course which leads to its extinction, or turn the course now towards a path that guarantees its survival,” he said.

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(14) Comments:

  1. Posted by S on

    “The report includes recommendations such as creating an Inuktitut Language Authority and supporting development of Inuit Heritage Centers across Nunavik.”

    BUT, what’s the plan?

    • Posted by Janimarik on

      Plan is to “discuss about preservation of…” let’s see if action speak louder than words! Good news by the way 🙂

      • Posted by Janimarik on

        How will we preserve Inuktitut language? By practicing and exercising traditional ways perhaps, or by going to classrooms and memorize words? , individual brains can only keep information by practicing and communicating in “Inuktitut”. But most importantly, it starts at home at early stage of brain development. Nakurmiik

  2. Posted by TGC on

    Godspeed with the endeavor. Language loss and deterioration is a if not the reason the north country has so much social unrest. I am looking forward to joining in the much needed and long awaited for Inutituut language classes. I trust that the Avataq Institute directors see the importance that it be a part of the initiative and will take the measures required.

  3. Posted by Tulugaq on

    Will that include language training for Qallunaat who come to Nunavik to work? It would be important, particularly for people involved in health, social services, justice and child protection. It’s embarrassing to see these people coming to Nunavik knowing little or nothing about the culture and language of the Inuit. A step towards decolonization!

    • Posted by What about teachers of Inuktitut? on

      You’re right. And also what about the local uneducated teachers that are hired in our Nunavik Schools to teach Inuktitut? Will there be more money and resources put into improving that, like getting educated? Our kids are suffering, and so is the language in that lack of qualifications for teaching it. Or will the people from the south, who you are suggesting to learn Inuktitut, will they be able to teach Inuktitut, after they learn it , to fill the gap I’m referring to here?

    • Posted by They come to save you on

      Now first of all, don’t expect a surgeon in Montreal that’s going to perform a life saving procedure to speak Inuktitut, it’s not going to happen. People from the south coming to Nunavik will not learn Inuktitut either. If Nunavik do require people from the south to learn the language, it’ll be a bad day for Nunavik as well. Giving the reality that education among Nunavik population is not enough to have self sufficient professionals within. Sorry but Nunavik doesn’t have a choice in its present situation, to demand that of its southern professionals as a criteria for coming to work in Nunavik, it’s not going to happen. I would love for everyone to speak the longing Nunavik, but let’s not overlook the education of Nunavik itself to impediment that.

      • Posted by Good on

        Qallunnat sometimes try but like Inuit they can’t find reliable instructors or programs to further their knowledge.

  4. Posted by Northerner on

    My god is nunavik parents really that lazy to teach their kids to learn their language? 36 mill is alot of money that could have been used elsewhere like say homes. Our soldiers that will have to defend us. Not this.

  5. Posted by Niviaxie on

    I’m grateful for this funding. What I’d like to see more are; posts in Inuttitut such as signs on our doors, public notices in our language and let those who wish to understand them in other language ask for them, this way, we’ll be a bit more forced to understand our own words.

    I don’t like our Inuttitut numbers, I still cannot say 777 in Inuttitut…lol

    The other thing is addition to our letters such as “F” and “H”, mainly for names.

  6. Posted by Good luck on

    Considering that so much money was and still is for education, and look at what we got for it? 40 plus years in the making of what? How many qualified teacher that we know that teaches Inuktitut? Education is the opportunity for this, and yet , money has gone down the drain, with results that are shocking. 40 years from now, will be looking for funding to language again, and education will still not be understood as the way to long. Look at the little children in school, who and what type of Inuktitut are they being taught ? Last time I looked it was teachers, not really teachers, but those that are hired to teach Inuktitut and can’t.

  7. Posted by What about language camp? on

    I can remember many years ago, there were these language camps for Inuktitut. Bring people together, getting elders and others to come up with words , right at camp, out on the land. Any money to waste on that again. Getting elders, uneducated elders, to come up with words on the spot. Do anyone know if this idea has been used in other world languages, desperate for preservation? I’m not confident in this. That’s the problem with landline Inuktitut m forcing words from uneducated people on the spot, because it’s not used in an ongoing situation. Like in school, family , community.

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