RENEWAL & TRANSFER
The ways that knowledge is learned and taught is often as important as the knowledge itself. The Pitquhirnikkut Ilihautiniq / Kitikmeot Heritage Society forefront projects encouraging Inuit traditional knowledge and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit. We do not see traditional knowledge as being static or belonging to the past, but something that is constantly in a process of adapting to the challenges and conditions of the modern world. These approaches stress that knowledge is meant to be used, and should be collected in contexts that re-enforce traditional and healthy relationships between generations, family, community, and the land. When knowledge is developed outside this framework, it loses much of its meaning and relevance.
In all of our research, we encourage the creation of community-based projects that incorporate the knowledge and expertise of Inuinnait knowledge holders, and emphasize the transfer of this knowledge to younger generations.
Jimmy Haniliak demonstrates how to prepare snow blocks for iglu building.
The Pitquhirnikkut Ilihautiniq/Kitikmeot Heritage Society has over 20 years of experience designing and delivering oral history and traditional knowledge projects, land camps, and technology revitalization projects involving Elders and youth. This leadership and programming has become more crucial as the last generation of Elders who grew up on the land continues to decline. Our organization is building strong social and knowledge relationships between generations of Inuinnait through our Elders-in-Residence program and traditional technology workshop initiatives.
Learn more about how we are preserving and renewing Inuinnait knowledge and culture.
TRADITIONAL TECHNOLOGIES WORKSHOPS
Over the years, the PI/KHS has regularly organized traditional technology construction projects involving Inuinnait Elders, knowledge holders, and youth. These projects have been held in multiple environments including workshop spaces, community centres, and land camps. The projects encourage Elders and knowledge holders to practice, remember and re-create traditional tools and technologies. The documentation and transmission of these techniques is also fore-fronted through the production of interviews and recording of vocabulary and language that can be passed down to future generations.
BRINGING INUINNAIT HISTORY HOME
Last year saw the continuation of our international partnership with the National Museum of Denmark, working together to digitally return Inuit cultural knowledge through the Fifth Thule Expedition Atlas. Cultural revitalization requires the firsthand knowledge of Elders, as well as cultural objects and ethnographic collections often owned by cultural institutions around the world. Our work to bring Inuit knowledge and heritage home ensures that Inuit regain access to our culture. In September 2018, curator Anne Mette Jørgensen from the Danish National Museum, and Tone Wang from the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo, visited Cambridge Bay and shared recently completed high-resolution images of photographs taken during the Fifth Thule Expedition with Elders.
We develop community projects and relationships that encourage the intergenerational teaching of Inuit societal values and emphasize the important role that Elders hold within our communities. As a result, the involvement and participation of local Elders has become one of the defining characteristics of our programming.
Our Elder-in-Residence program has created multiple part-time positions each year for local Elders to work on-site at the May Hakongak Community Library and Cultural Centre. Over the years, different Elders have occupied these positions and have each brought their own specific brand of expertise, knowledge, and personality to the Centre and our programs. The Elders contribute to ongoing language revitalization initiatives such as Inuinnaqtun documentation and the creation of an immersive Inuinnaqtun environment, and they teach traditional skills.
The Elders-in-Residence are available to anyone, whether it be school groups, incoming researchers, local organizations, or community members. Each day, the Elders’ group works with locals and provides cultural counseling, shares personal experiences, and answers questions about everything from sewing techniques to raising children.
Elik Tologanak on the importance of intergenerational knowledge transfer at a 2014 cultural landcamp.
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