The Inuinnaqtun language—the foundation of Inuinnait culture—has less than 600 fluent speakers remaining.
By most estimates, it is a language that will be extinct in less than two generations.
We're not alone. As we face an advanced state of language shift across Inuinnait communities in the Central Canadian Arctic, Indigenous languages across the globe are disappearing from speech. The United Nations has declared 2022-2032 The International Decade of Indigenous Languages to raise awareness of the consequences of this disappearance, and to lay a roadmap to implement the internationally recognized rights of Indigenous Peoples to our languages. Reconciliation must also start with the acknowledgment and understanding that Canada is a country with far more than two official languages. There are an estimated 70 Indigenous languages in Canada—two thirds of these languages are considered endangered. Inuinnaqtun is among this statistic.
We are bringing Elders, Inuinnaqtun linguists, fluent speakers and researchers together to reverse the loss of Inuinnaqtun in our communities and create programs to document our language, mentor the next generation of competent speakers, and develop innovative tools and resources for learning and language reclamation.
Listen to an episode of the Inuinnaujugut podcast where Emily Angulalik and Eva Ayalik discuss the importance of language and priorities for Inuinnaqtun revitalization.
This evidence-based program pairs a fluent speaker (mentor) with a learner (apprentice) for 300 hours of one-on-one immersion per year.
A language nest protects and immerses those inside in a world that nurtures and supports their growth in Inuinnaqtun. We're working to make the May Hakongak Community Library & Cultural Centre an immersive Inuinnaqtun environment and a safe space for healing and cultural revitalization.
INUINNAUJUGUT / WE ARE INUINNAIT PODCAST
We work from the past and present to develop resources for language learning. We look to ethnographic material collected in the last hundred years, and we create new courses, tools and resources grounded in Inuinnait culture, with a focus on rebuilding wellbeing alongside language acquisition.
We work with Elders, fluent speakers and linguists to record vocabulary and phrases. Data is uploaded into the Inuinnaqtun Language Atlas.
'Those who make the way forward together'
This small group of language leaders from Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Kugluktuk, and Ulukhaktok is developing resources and strategies needed for transformative revitalization across all of our communities.