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
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.