New books bring Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun to classrooms

Local artists, authors collaborate to put stories on the page


“Hamungarmat… or “What time is it, when…?” is the question that a new book helps young Nunavut children to answer -in both Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun.

The book asks kids to choose what words to say when they wake up, go to school, eat lunch, play, eat supper or go to sleep. At the same time, the book encourages young readers to learn how to tell time.

Colourful illustrations by Pond Inlet resident and Arctic College instructor Shelly Elverum accompany the text, which was written by Judy Angnetsiak.

Angnetsiak, who grew up in Pond Inlet, now lives in Iqaluit.

“Our language should not be lost because we have to communicate with our elders,” Angnetsiak writes on the back of the book.

This book, which is her first, is one of 12 new books for younger readers of Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun, produced by the territorial education department. Its Teaching and Learning Centre released the series this week to coincide with National Education Week.

Inuit Child First, Indigenous Services Canada

Martha Kyak, the TLC’s manager in Pond Inlet, said she hadn’t seen the published editions of the books yet -but she spent months working long-distance on each one. She said she was particularly looking forward to seeing Gloria, by Rosie Innuaraq, which was illustrated by Nasivvik High School students in Pond Inlet.

“It turned out really well,” Kyak said.

Gloria tells the story of two friends who are also cousins.

Among the new books – which all schools in Nunavut will be receiving shortly – is Aiviit (Walrus) by Elisapee Awa.

Aiviit was written from conversations with Igloolik elders. The book, written entirely in Inuktitut syllabics and illustrated with photographs by Nathaniel Ningiuk, shows the various parts of a walrus and tells where walrus live and how they are hunted.

Other books in the new series look at topics such as special occasions, months of the year, sewing and survival on the land.

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Several tell stories, such as Pitsiaqtarluta Pitsiaqtauniarapta about a little boy who stops being a bully, and another Kakak about a girl who loves to sing her grandmother’s songs.

Yvonne Kayotak has written and illustrated a book for older readers about attending residential school in Chesterfield Inlet.

Elisapee Karetak’s book, Caterpillar and Spider, which was illustrated by Celina Kalluk, tells about a race between a spider and a caterpillar. The spider learns not to boast about his speed when the caterpillar turns into a butterfly and flies away. The life cycle of the butterfly is shown -“this book would be especially suitable for classes studying insects,” says an accompanying text.

U, Pu, Tu, Ku is the second in a series of workbooks to help elementary school students learn syllabics, and it includes activities and exercises that teachers can use to help students learn about syllabics – the workbook also features a certificate in syllabics, which teachers can photocopy and award to their students after they master the syllabics.

Next year, Kyak said she will produce the A, Pa, Ta, Ka workbook.

Colour posters, designed by Shelley Elverum, are also part of the package on its way to Nunavut schools. The posters show kids dressed head to toe in the colour to be learned as well as vocabulary cards.

Kyak said next year the TLC will produce another series of materials for teachers in higher grades.

For more information on how to order the TLC, consult its on-line catalogue at www.gov.nu.ca/education/tlccatalogue.

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