Rankin Inlet teacher starts free Inuktitut course for beginners
Nine-week programs runs weekly in Rankin Inlet and online
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.