In Quebec? Laval University offers Inuktitut class in 2020

Students will learn the basics of communication in Inuktitut

Conversation inuit/inuktitut uqariursautiit is one of the textbooks that will be used in the Laval University Inuktitut course, set to start in January. (Photo courtesy of Les Presses de l’Université Laval)

By Jane George

If you speak French, live near Quebec City and want to learn Inuktitut, there’s a course for you starting in January at Laval University.

The course, scheduled for Tuesday evenings, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:20 p.m., aims to introduce students to interacting in Inuktitut, both orally and in writing, in everyday life situations.

According to information from Laval, in the course, taught by Justyne Chamberland, you will learn how to:

  • introduce yourself or to introduce someone
  • ask simple questions to learn about a person or an object
  • understand the description of someone’s family members and briefly learn to describe the members of your family
  • understand feelings to describe one’s state of health and emotions, or the state of health of someone
  • understand the description of someone’s daily actions, inquire and describe your own daily actions
  • understand a weather report, learn about weather conditions and talk about the weather

You’ll also learn greetings and how to describe things along with dates and times, as well as the basic Inuktitut grammar to pull these together and the syllabics you will need to read and write in Inuktitut.

Chamberland first started learning Inuktitut when she was teaching French as a second language at Nunavik’s Raglan Mine a few years ago. Her students, who came from communities around the region, helped her learn Inuktitut, said Laval University spokesperson Thérèse Guay.

Chamberland was able to learn the two the dialects of Inuktitutspoken in Nunavik, those of the Hudson Bay and Ungava Bay, Guay said.

The course will be a mix of classroom sessions and distance-learning sessions, but all exams will take place at Laval.

The textbooks to be used in the course include: Conversation inuit/inuktitut uqariursautiit and Je veux que les inuit soient libres de nouveau by Taamusi Qumaq.

The deadline to enrol in “INU-1010 Initiation à l’inuktitut” is Dec. 2.

This course doesn’t mark the first time that Laval has offered Inuktitut courses: for many years, linguist and anthropologist Louis-Jacques Dorais taught Inuktitut.

You can also study Inuktitut in Montreal with linguist Georges Filotas, who teaches introductory and advanced courses at Nunavik’s Avataq Cultural Institute.

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(21) Comments:

  1. Posted by INUK on

    Good morning my fellow inuks , lets start complaining about how a southern university is teaching inuktituut , when the person is not a INUK. Let the whineing comence

  2. Posted by wrong pronounciation! Inuttitut! why teach when you pronounce it wrong? on

    Wondering if the teacher got approval from Inuit officials?

    I find the Inuktitut sounded like English pronunciation!
    Us Inuiit, say “Inuttitut” our real language.

    I find a southerner will teach wrong pronunciations, our language will get stolen again from a souther(s)

    My right to voice out as real Inuk!

    • Posted by typos, wrong pornunciation! Inuttitut! why teach when you pronounce it wrong? on


      • Posted by Lingo on

        Wow. Sounds like you know what you’re talking about. Where in Montreal (or anywhere) can I sign up for your class?

    • Posted by Small mindset on

      I knew someone would write a comment like this. I think this whole notion of needing permission to speak or teach or engage in the art of another culture is absurd. It’s grounded in fear and xenophobia. It’s also counterproductive.

    • Posted by Put your money where your mouth is on

      Took longer than I thought it would for someone to come out and condemn the teaching of this course (by a Southerner). Heaven forbid a non-Inuit person takes some initiative to teach a fading language. How many times have we read on Nunatsiaq about how the language in Nunavut is dying. How many comments from Inuit about how more needs to be done to keep this language alive. Now there is someone trying to do just that, and all you can think to do is try to vilify her. If it bothers you, as a “real inuk” that much, then why don’t you step up and put an “acceptable” course on?

      • Posted by oh wow, you actually saw Heaven forbitting non-Inuiit, again Inuiit is appropriate word! on

        Inuit pronunciation is southerner’s style again, when we Inuiit say Inuiit!

    • Posted by David on

      I looked it up. Laval teaches a dozen language courses from German to Japanese. Does Laval need permission from officials from every country? Or is this an Inuttitut only rule?

      How about Canadian History profs: are they allowed to teach Inuit History, or is permission needed there too?

  3. Posted by thank you, can you move up North? on

    Congratulations George, as we have a major issues lacking teachers in Kuujjuaq, and other 13 communities, we are desperately needing teachers, English French Inuttitut, many times my grandson is sent home due to lacking Inuttitut teacher.

    You have great experience in North, with many Inuiit friends, I’d sure would love it, if you have come here instead.

    Good luck George.

  4. Posted by Kenn Harper on

    “Wondering if the teacher got approval from Inuit officials?”
    You’re joking, right?
    Unfortunately I think you are serious. And that’s sad. Who are these “Inuit officials” who would grant – or withhold – such approval.
    Inuktitut/Inuttitut/Inuktut is threatened wherever it is spoken, more in some regions than others. All possible resources should be used to prevent the loss of this wonderful language. Those who know it well enough to teach it – and have the ability to teach (which not everyone has) – should be congratulated for their effort and their initiative.

    • Posted by Kangirjuaaq on

      Unfortunately, this is becoming all too common a refrain, “cultural appropriation (witness Tanya Tagak’s ridiculous comments on throat singing), clothing design copying, and the list goes on”, and now language teaching? Like Kenn says, I sincerely hope you are joking, but I fear you are not. The language is being lost, mostly because of parents not living up to their responsibility to teach them the language, or even get them to school to learn any language. Its all so sad. Haven’t we seen this turn of events with other Indigenous groups in North America?

    • Posted by go learn Inuiit! not to make your own Inuttitut, because we Inuiit will no longer get stepped over on

      Go learn Inuiit in Nunavik, what officialism that we have or carry!

      We’ll not going to be stepped over or walked over, over our own Inuttitut language!
      Our language rights do exist, our elders been forced to change their own language to English, do we look like English? we are not from Britain or England, many are hurt.

      How would you feel if we try to change your child’s language to Inuttitut? Not to speak English?! or even French!

    • Posted by iRoll on

      I imagine the same “inuit officials” who will be receiving royalties for each utterance of a sound that resembles throat singing will also be responsible to ordain this course.

    • Posted by Reply to Kenn. on

      Yes the Inuit teacher I saw giving course was really impressive, I am an Inuk, when I saw his video of him teaching, I was really impressed the way he was teaching, it was as if I learned the english language it was just the same concept of his way of teaching, he was really professional, he could even say different way of saying that our language requires to explain, he was really impressive, he knew more than most Inuit teachers here in Nunavik, I think he was in Nunavik for thirty to forty years and learn the language very good, he took the time to learn our language I was really impressed with him.

  5. Posted by No Hurt on

    I promise you this will not hurt Nunavut nor Nunavik.

    I mean aside from calling Iqaluit like it was ikaaluit. Even then no one hurts over that. How about those translations done by Inuit that sound like Qablunartitut in structure. They are pure colonialism.

  6. Posted by Janimarik on

    I want all my friends and family to go attent this important class, one of the rarest opportunity to have. Inuktitut is the most precious and most important language in the Arctic environment. Period.

  7. Posted by Pierre on

    Well said M. Harper. I took classes with M. Filotas in Montréal a few years ago and he was nothing short of outstanding! He even, for my benefit, made the distinction between the language spoken in Nunavik and the Baffin region when applicable. A dedicated knowledgeable teacher.

    • Posted by West Nunavut Youth. Kitikmeot. on

      We would like to have M. Filotas establish a proper program
      of Inuktitut in Cambridge Bay, but the establishment has
      always refused !!
      Are they afraid that he might be successful in a few months ?
      Whereas they have been failures at Inuktitut education for
      many, many, years.
      Congratulations to Montreal for your native language programs, much appreciated.

  8. Posted by yeah, thanks to Kangirsumiut, he learned Inuttitut! on

    Yes, thanks to Kangirsumiut, he learned Inuttitut, he misspelled Inuttitut!

    and Janimarik, Jaanimmarik is real name, he was late Johnny Saunders! Attend, not attent!

    Many typos were made from our real Inuttitut language of Nunavik Ungava Bay!

  9. Posted by Wow really glad someone is teaching our language, on

    I am really glad someone is taking the lead in teaching our language, I have watched video of one of the teachers that was teaching our language, I was really impressed the way he was teaching, his way of teaching was very professional and he was a really good teacher, I suggest you go and learn this language if you come to north to work, at least learn the basics of hello and good bye, really glad someone is taking the lead, keep up the good work, Laval University works most on Nunavik I am sure glad they have taken this lead.

  10. Posted by Marcel Lafontaine on

    We have a centre in Rouyn-Noranda (Centre d’Enseignement et d’Apprentissage Libellule) where we offer different languages and tutoring. Most of them are taught by teachers who themselves have learned the language. Japanese, Germain, Spanish and yes French and English. I am convinced that every teacher we have had was passionate about the language and teaching it. I have tried to organize First Nation languages ( Inuktitut, Cree, Algonquin) for years without success. If anyone knows someone who is interested we would love to have them at our centre. I am third generation First Nation. I would love to help all First Nation languages survive!! I know how to say, “Thank You”, in many languages. After spending some time at the Raglan Mine in early 2000 I learned a few words that I still know today. I wish I knew a lot more. We have ignored our First Nation languages for too long. These languages are next to us and we have learned others that are far more distant. Learning languages brings us all closer together. We need to learn something of our First Nation languages and pass it on.
    Merci, Thank you, Nia:wen (Mohawk), Migwetc (Cree), Tshinashkumitin (Innu), Wela’lin (Mi’kmaq), Wli Wni (Abenaquis), Tiawenhk (Wendat), Nakurmik(Inuktitut), Meegwetch/ mìgwetch (Algonquin)

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