Rankin Inlet teacher starts free Inuktitut course for beginners

Nine-week programs runs weekly in Rankin Inlet and online

A Rankin Inlet teacher has launched a free Inuktitut course for beginners that runs every Saturday afternoon. (File photo)

By Emma Tranter

Appolina Makkigak is used to teaching Inuktitut to an audience of little ones.

But the Grade 1 Inuktitut teacher at Leo Ussak School in Rankin Inlet recently decided to add a different kind of classroom to her schedule, one with a slightly older age group.

Makkigak has launched a weekly Inuktitut course for beginners in Rankin Inlet.

“It’s been on my mind for a while now to start teaching Inuktitut to people who want to learn it,” she said.

“It was a bit of a passion of mine to help people learn to understand at least, or to learn to speak Inuktitut because there’s a lot of room for improvement to get stronger in speaking Inuktitut.”

The course uses curriculum from the Pirurvik Centre in Iqaluit, an Inuit-owned language and cultural centre that offers different levels of Inuktitut learning materials.

“I got some books last year from Pirurvik and it’s been growing in my mind. I talked to a couple of my colleagues to see how they run programs because being a teacher is pretty busy. One of my colleagues mentioned to try something once a week and see how that goes,” she said.

“Pirurvik has the perfect layout of how to teach Inuktitut and how to learn Inuktitut. I really enjoy the resource. It’s very easy to follow and the amount of information per lesson is just right.”

After putting up a poster advertising the course on the Rankin Inlet News page on Facebook, Makkigak said demand grew quickly. Shortly after, she had 20 people register for the course.

Makkigak held the first course on Saturday, Feb. 1, which, as she pointed out, is the first day of Inuktut Language Month in Nunavut.

About 14 people showed up to that course, while another five people will take an online version of the lessons with support from Makkigak.

“I’m trying my best to accommodate the people who are interested,” she said.

“It was fuller than I expected. It was a different audience than I’m used to. So it was a little nerve-racking for me, but after a while it came naturally to teach it and I’m already feeling confident.”

The course, which runs once a week on Saturdays, is funded by the Canadian Roots Exchange. That means people are able to take the course at no cost.

Makkigak said although the course is considered to be for beginners, the level of language of people registered in the course varies.

“There’s some people from Rankin who already speak and understand it. The majority are people originally from the south that came here to learn,” she said.

For Makkigak, the change from teaching Grade 1 to teaching adults has been a welcome addition to her schedule.

“It’s a nice eye-opener. There’s an opportunity there to reach out to a different audience so I’m enjoying the different audiences,” she said.

“I love both, though. I love the two audiences,” she added with a laugh.

Makkigak said she hopes people taking the course will gain confidence to learn even more Inuktitut when it’s over.

“This is the first time I’ve ever done this type of program and it’s a nine-week program. At the end of the nine-week program I’m going to reflect and review on that program. I’ll see how it went and see if there’s a possibility to do the same course again for nine weeks in a few months, or if it’s more appropriate to try and teach level two,” she said.

The course runs every Saturday afternoon for the next eight weeks.

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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by Susan Rule on

    I would love to do this,,learn,, As I am Inuit…

  2. Posted by WEST NUNAVUT YOUTH on

    Congratulations, Appolina for doing this and I hope it is very
    Why can’t other Inuktitut teachers do this in all parts of
    Nunavut. As if they cared.
    This will do more good for the Inuit language than all the
    meetings & conferences which come to nothing !
    Hoping others follow your good example .

  3. Posted by James Rondockett on

    It’s nice to see honest action replacing arrogant complaining about Inuktitut not being spoken enough in Nunavut.

    So many resources exist for Inuit to educate themselves in an effort to streamline with “Southern” standards. Now, those “Qablunaaqs” who don’t know Inuktitut in Rankin Inlet will have little recourse to comments about why they’re not able to speak or understand the language.

    Really, this is something the GN should be championing in response to their population’s attitude towards language, “colonizers”, culture.

    Kudos to Makkigak!

    • Posted by Rankin Inlet Kabloonak on

      Many Euro people have tried to learn Inuktitut in Nunavut.
      They cannot find a competent person to do it, or they end
      up being ripped off financially. Who can blame them !
      For about 40 years certain Inuit people have been in charge
      of teaching & delivering programs in Inuktitut. So what is
      their excuse for the state of Inuktitut today ? Many have
      made a good living over the years.
      Well done Appolina for your efforts and good direction, I
      just hope the people in charge of Inuktitut will pay attention
      to what you are trying to accomplish.

  4. Posted by Appolina Makkigak on

    Thank you for the kind comments. This is a first time trial and seems to be going good. I’ve yet to decide what I am able to do after this round.

    It took a lot of time and planning it in my mind to get here, and there’s still so much planning to do. I do hope it inspires others to try something like this to help our language. Anyone who feels like they can, give it a try. Emma did a super awesome job making this sound great, in reality though, we’re all learning as we go and I say a lot of “ums “ haha but thank you for showing interest Emma to publish this story.

    I can’t speak for other teachers, but being a teacher is a lot of work. I’m very certain anyone with a passion can do a program like this and do it 100 times better. Some time and effort is all we need to take that step.

    I’ve been getting messages about joining. I would like to say, let’s try next time (I’m not sure when that will be, but hopefully next time the advertisement will reach out a little further). In the meantime, you can message me if you are interested for the next time I try this program out. I’ll make a “waiting list” of people who are interested. I would like to keep up with the pace I have started with and not overwhelm myself.

    Again, thank you so much for the support! But the overwhelming gratitude should be for those who are patient with me and are willing to try this program.

    • Posted by Juana Mesher on

      What’s the online info? Is it too late to start?

    • Posted by Jemma Rivera on

      Hi Appolina. How wonderful that you are giving your time to teach others this beautiful language. I read that you are also offering the courses online and would love to find out if I’d be able to participate from Yellowknife?

  5. Posted by stephanie miehe on

    hey! how do I get access to the online class. I would love this especially for work.

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