Celebrating 25 years, we are committed to the renewal of our language and culture. We are all in for Inuinnaqtun, with a goal to raise $250,000 over the course of the year.
Less than 600 fluent Inuinnaqtun speakers remain. In 2015, UNESCO applied its endangered languages criteria to Inuinnaqtun and rated our language as “definitely endangered.”
While the term Inuinnaqtun most often refers to the dialect of Inuktut spoken by Inuinnait, its true meaning is much more expansive: to speak, to create, to practice, to do, to think—to be—like an Inuinnaq (a human being). Our words, phrases and sentences hold deeply embedded meanings that describe and reinforce the long-honoured ways of being and relationships between all living things—the land, the sea, the ice, the air, the animals and the universe. All of which has been accumulated over millennia, passed on and sustained with each new generation until the cycle of transmission was interrupted.
The scars of colonization and the systemic oppression of Indigenous languages and cultures run deep. Intergenerational trauma causes ongoing language loss, shame and wellness issues. As we look to reconciliation, reclaiming and retaining our identity by passing on and learning our language and culture is at the heart of our healing. Inuinnaqtun is our link to our Elders and ancestors and the knowledge, worldview and cultural continuity that is our inheritance.
Stand with us to support healing.
On our 25th anniversary, we reconfirmed our commitment to reawakening our language and culture. Many words and parts of our language are sleeping, disused and dormant following massive changes to our cultural communities over the past hundred years.
Guided by a five-year Strategic Plan, and by Inikhaliuqatigiit, ‘the trail makers’, a group of Inuinnaqtun leaders from the four Inuinnaqtun-speaking communities, we are connecting the resources, technology and expertise critical to the survival of Inuinnaqtun and Inuinnait culture.
We have set a goal to raise $250,000 for the renewal of Inuinnaqtun in our 25th year in order to do the following:
Preserve Language Domains – We are now experiencing the passing of the last of the Elders who grew up on the land speaking fluent Inuinnaqtun. For these Elders the language was used to express every aspect of life - every area of knowledge. Working alongside Elders and fluent speakers, Inuinnait Linguists will record vocabulary and fluent speech in knowledge areas for which only our oldest generations have personal experience, creating a permanent record to ensure the fullest extent of the language is documented.
Awaken Inuinnaqtun in Silent Speakers – Language learning must also involve individual healing. Working with Indigenous partners, we will launch a new program to target Silent Speakers, who understand much of their mother language, but do not speak it due to intergenerational language trauma. We will work in partnership with local Elders, therapists and counsellors to deliver a pilot program to support Silent speakers with the tools and coaching that will empower them to find their voice in Inuinnaqtun once again.
Expand Immersion Opportunities Across Inuinnait Communities – We will expand immersion opportunities across Inuinnait communities using pilot programs initiated in Cambridge Bay. Language Coaches in each community will act as satellites of the PI/KHS to 1) support local teams in the Inuinnaqtun Mentor-Apprentice Program (which pairs a fluent speaker and a learner for 300 hours of one-on-one immersion over one year), and 2) foster language nests (Inuinnaqtun-only spaces that uplift and support the development of learners through immersion in the language).