Poster children of Arctic Bay

Nunavummiut youth work to preserve and promote Inuktitut



A group of Arctic Bay teens have taken language promotion into their own hands.

Twelve members of Nunavut Youth Consulting (NYC), a community youth group, spent the past year carefully selecting the words and pictures for three posters celebrating language in Nunavut.

The posters are designed to encourage written and spoken Inuktitut. Each poster depicts images of Inuit elders and youth next to phrases such as “Inuktitut: Because we love our land.”

The camera-ready proofs head to the printers in Ottawa this week.

The project’s purpose is to protect Inuit identity.

“If we lose the Inuktitut language, how are we going to say we are Inuit?” asked Jimmy Enoogoo, 25.

Enoogoo, a NYC member is a purist. He doesn’t like to hear people mixing Inuktitut and English. He has nothing against English; he often speaks it when working as a teacher’s assistant at Inuujaq school. However, Enoogoo prefers hearing the two languages spoken independently.

The project took many shapes before the final three posters were approved last week. Enoogoo said the hardest part was agreeing on content and photos. The easiest part, he anticipates, will be distributing the posters to every school, hamlet office and health centre in the territory.

“It feels really good,” Enoogoo said of working with a group of like-minded people. “Hopefully we can move on to the next bigger project: a video.”

An official poster unveiling ceremony may take place during the Arctic Winter Games in Iqaluit next month.

The project was almost entirely youth-driven. Only one contributor is over the age of 30: Ron Elliott, NYC chair, snapped the photos and helped with layout.

“The project is aimed at ensuring the preservation and enhancement of the Inuktitut language. Not just at the community level, but reaching out across Nunavut,” Elliott said.

The project was made possible in part by a $21,000 grant from the department of culture, language, elders and youth. Another $26,000 came from private and in-kind donations.

To involve more community members, the Nunavut Edge Youth Editorial Board (NYEB) was invited to add comments to the project. NYEB is composed of six volunteer members who act as cultural consultants for The Edge magazine, which targets aboriginal youth across Canada.

“We live in a world that’s changing fast and our children might end up losing our language,” said Tina Muckpaloo one of the volunteer consultants.

“We’re trying to keep Inuktitut alive.”

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