You can learn Inuktitut in downtown Montreal

The 12-week course with Georges Filotas starts Sept. 16

If you want to better understand Inuktitut and learn to read syllabics shown above, you can register to take an Inuktitut course in Montreal under Georges Filotas, who learned to speak Inuktitut in the 1970s in Nunavik. (File image)

By Jane George

If you want to start learning Inuktitut, there’s a course which is set to start up this month in the Montreal offices of Nunavik’s Avataq Cultural Institute.

“This course is for those who would seriously like to undertake a structured and sustained study of Inuktitut,” says a news release about the course from its teacher, Georges Filotas.

For several years, Georges Filotas has offered Inuktitut classes in Montreal. (File photo)

Filotas, a former general manager of the Fédération des co-opératives du Nouveau-Québec, is a fluent speaker of Inuktitut.

Filotas, who learned to speak the language in Kangirsuk in the early 1970s, has offered courses in Inuktitut for several years now in Montreal.

This year he has some words of advice for potential students in his course:

  • Learning a new language in adulthood is never easy.
  • Learning a new language whose structure and way of working differs from French and English is even less easy.
  • Learning Inuktitut in the middle of the city in three hours a week, after a long day of work, study, family and children is even more difficult.

“Your success will depend on your attendance and, more importantly, the time you put in it between classes during the 12 weeks,” Filotas said.

The series of 12 classes start with an information evening that will take place Monday, Sept. 16, at 6 p.m. at Avataq, located at 4150 Ste. Catherine West, office 360.

That evening will determine the breakdown of groups and the final schedule of the classes.

On Sept. 16, Filotas also plans to introduce beginners to a first overview of Inuktitut and a detailed course plan.

Due to the many expressions of interest already received for the courses, there will be two groups for the introductory level, one on Monday evenings, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and the other on Wednesday evenings, at the same time.

The more advanced group is expected to meet on Thursday evenings.

During the 12 weeks, students will learn to converse and familiarize themselves with many expressions.

But Inuktitut’s complexity and special characteristics require “a more methodical approach to lift the veil on the rules underlying speech,” Filotas said about his course.

For that reason, he plans to take his students through a series of units, each one on a separate point or theme of Inuktitut grammar.

“As we go along, the contents of these particular themes will become more complex while integrating with each other to an organic whole,” he said.

Students will also learn syllabics and mainly use syllabics in their writing, as Filotas said syllabics open up a wide range of written work in Inuktitut.

The $250 fee for the course covers all materials except dictionaries.

The materials include two packages, one on phonetics and Inuit grammar and the other with the conjugation tables of verbs and declensions of nouns.

If you wish to attend the courses, it’s not too late, but contact Filotas first at

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(20) Comments:

  1. Posted by Are you serious? on

    Seriously? I feel offended with this as I am an inuk person and having a non-inuk make money in teaching our inuit language! I’m pretty sure some inuk elders would also be offended!

    • Posted by are YOU serious? on

      Are you kidding? Someone has gone to the trouble of developing a decent curriculum and is willing to teach Inuktitut, and all you’re concerned about is the fact that he is getting
      paid for his trouble? You’re right. He should keep his knowledge to himself. That’s much better for the language. Also, $250 per student is hardly anything.
      Please, step right up and teach. Show him how it’s done.

      • Posted by Yeah, they’re serious on

        “We must do everything and anything to preserve and protect the language!”

        “Someone non-Inuk is teaching the language.”

        “HERESY! That shouldn’t be allowed!”

    • Posted by Nunavik Inuk on


    • Posted by Chuck the derailler on

      So, the German professor I had teaching me for my Irish Lit course should not have done so.
      Sometimes knowledge and ability trumps race.

    • Posted by Chuck the derailler on

      I’m going to take this course as a white man and learn the language because I think it’s imortant to be able to communicate and help heal my brother’s in the north as best I can because I think it’s important. Who cares who is teaching if if good is coming from it.

    • Posted by Tulugak on

      Your comment is demeaning for the Qallunaat who learned Inuktitut and are willing to share with others what they learned. A friend of mine, Dr. Michèle Therrien taught Inuktitut at the Institut des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO) in Paris for decades and she developed exchange programs so that her students would be able to come to Nunavut and parctice what they learned while living with Inuit families. In return, Inuit students were invited in France to share their cultures with the many people that were interested in Indigenous languages. She passed away last year but her work will bear fruits for a long time.

    • Posted by Juura on

      I agree. My mother and grand parents taught me and my brother how to speak Inuktitut. She told me to teach it only to my children (when I have them) to keep the language alive within our own people and culture. Someone with no relation to the Inuit has no right to teach this language to just any random person

      • Posted by Israel MacArthur on

        Uh-oh, then you I guess that you’re going to have a problem here. Seems like you are speaking English, without being able to trace your ancestry to one particular part of that group of islands. You’d better stop, as you are from outside the culture you know. I’m sure that English speakers in the UK will be very upset with an outsider like you using their language. /S

        Seriously though, did they honestly teach you that poppycock? A language doesn’t ‘belong’ to any one culture or ethnic group, it belongs to whoever chooses to learn it. Did your parents and grandparents also teach you not to marry outside of your ethnic group in order to keep the blood ‘pure’? Just curious, cause it seems to me that such thinking goes hand in hand?

    • Posted by West Nunavut Youth. Kitikmeot. on

      What on earth is wrong with you, ARE YOU SERIOUS.
      I blame people like you for the pathetic state of Inuktitut
      today. Many of my friends, all Inuk agree with me.
      Always keeping the same incompetent , useless, language
      instructors, year after year. Happy what you have done ?
      Blessings and thanks to George Filotas, as Kenn Harper
      said, proud to have you in the Kitikmeot any time.

    • Posted by Luisa on

      Oh Phashaw, George is/will do a good job of teaching Inutituut, get on with the times deary. I’m an elder-ish Inuk and think this is a good action, considering many qalunnat wants to learn our language.

  2. Posted by Suvaaa on

    The syllabics chart is backwards. It has to read ᐃ ᐅ ᐊ
    ᐃ is always the first. It’s like C,B,A when it’s should be ABC

  3. Posted by Emily Dederick on

    Do you have any other later dates available. I’m Inuk and have a very limited knowledge of Inuktituk but I would love to re learn

  4. Posted by Inuktitut teacher on

    Inuk teacher, where are you? Are you serious? It goes to show there are no motivation within the inuk teacher to teach. Thats our big problem, here in Nunavik. No Inuit teacher to do the job, but we complain about our education being saturated by the whites. Good for George in that he took the motivation to not only learn the language, but is also a teacher. It’s jealousy that puts him down, or trying to. But let the unmotivated be as they are. They continue down the road of ignorance, and keep themselves in a tiny bubble of existence. Let’s not let this be the way of Inuit, to be so against an ambassador of language.

  5. Posted by Peck on

    It was a Anglican minister that developed the written syllabic. So why should it not be taught by a non inuk? A priest or two always taught Inuktitut in my days, and were very good at it.

  6. Posted by Stephan on

    Do you think you could offer the course via Skype now or in the future? Because a lot of m’ colleagues and I working here un Nunavik would gladly join the group. Right now our only option is a course comming from France held on mondays from 8 to 11 wich us during pour working hours. You would get a lot of people joining for sure and I would gladly promote it among my piers.

  7. Posted by Kenn Harper on

    George Filotas has an impeccable knowledge of Inuktitut, is an excellent teacher, and a fine person. Any community should be proud to have a person like George in its midst.

  8. Posted by Itua – Iglumngmit on

    the syllabics chart has the 3 row system – ICI style. When I was in Nunavik 1st half of the 90s with Makivik, it maintained the 4 rows.. When did Nunavik go from 4 rows to 3 thanks.. ed

    • Posted by itua in Igloolik still on

      I mean’t to say ‘columns’ instead of rows about. Nunavik had maintained the 4 columns of syllabic characters, post ICI 1977 3 columns,

  9. Posted by Thank you on

    This sounds like an awesome course.

    Inuktitut second language learners know first-hand the importance of courses like these which are taught by professors versed in second language teaching techniques.

    Qujannamiik ikajuqattaravit Inuktitut ilinniaqtunik!

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