Council of the Federation Literacy Award honours Inuktut expert
Monica Ittusardjuat “inspires everyone around her to use Inuktut every day”
A long-time Inuktut educator and language activist, Monica Ittusardjuat, is among this year’s recipients of a Council of the Federation Literacy Award.
Presented in each province and territory, the award, announced by the premiers on Sept. 6 ahead of International Literacy Day, celebrates “outstanding achievement, innovative practice and excellence in literacy.”
Ittusardjuat has worked in Inuktut education for more than 50 years, notes a news release on the award.
During that time she has served as a teacher at every level, from early childhood education to the interpreter-translator program at Nunavut Arctic College.
Ittusardjuat also served for two years as the National Inuit Language Co-ordinator at Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. At ITK, she led the Atausiq Inuktut Titirausiq working group to study and make recommendations for orthography standards that could accommodate all dialects of Inuktut.
Ittusardjuat was born in a winter camp called Akkimaniq and, growing up, attended three residential schools, including the Sir Joseph Bernier federal residential school in Chesterfield Inlet.
In her current role as senior Inuktitut editor at the publisher Inhabit Education, Ittusardjuat oversees all Inuktitut-language materials for the Inuktitut first-language literacy program for Nunavut.
“She plays an indispensable role in creating materials that will help young Nunavummiut learn and practise their language. She inspires everyone around her to use Inuktut every day,” said the release.
Along those lines, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made a statement on International Literacy Day, saying “this year’s theme, ‘Literacy and Multilingualism,’ encourages us to promote linguistic diversity—and reminds us that we need to do more to make sure everyone has access to learning in the language they speak or understand.”
“Literacy skills are building blocks that help us create a better future. They give us the tools and independence we need to succeed—and no one should face barriers to these skills based on the language they speak.”