Language revitalization program coming to the Kitikmeot
“There just needs to be an interest in ensuring the language survives"
Fewer than 400 Inuit still speak Inuinnaqtun in Nunavut’s Kitikmeot region, but that’s something Nunavut Arctic College hopes to change.
Starting this February, the college’s Kitikmeot campus will launch a new language revitalization program in Cambridge Bay.
Its goal: to help students develop their language skills, but also to help nurture the use of Iniunnaqtun over the long-term, at the community level.
“This isn’t just a language course, but one where you go in and look at the skills and strengths of your community and family in order to build it up,” said Louise Flaherty, NAC’s director of Inuit Languages and Culture.
“The course is for anyone who has a passion for ensuring the language can survive, by providing an idea of how they play an instrumental role,” she added. “Because we keep hearing about language loss and concern about Inuinnaqtun.”
The certificate program was developed at the University of Victoria’s department of linguistics and is designed to be applied in any indigenous language setting.
In recent years, two Nunavummiut have already graduated with a Certificate in Aboriginal Language Revitalization from the university: Millie Kulliktana and Suzie Evyagotailak of Kugluktuk.
And the program had its desired effect, Flaherty said; both women have gone on to be advocates of Inuinnaqtun programming in their communities.
NAC’s new program is structured as a three-part, intensive course: the first session runs from Feb. 16 to March 7.
The first portion focuses on the dynamics of indigenous languages and explains the context of language loss.
A second unit teaches the principles and practices of language revitalization, while the third section offers an introduction to linguistics.
The program will be taught by a University of Victoria instructor along with a local Inuk language instructor, Flaherty said.
And it’s open to any age group and any level of fluency in Inuinnaqtun.
“This course is non-intimidating because we’re starting from the very beginning,” she said. “There just needs to be an interest in ensuring the language survives.”
For more information or to apply to the program, click here.
The new NAC programs adds to the language training initiatives being offered in Cambridge Bay. Last fall, Piruvik offered a beginners’ Inuinnaqtun course in the Kitikmeot community, while the Kitikmeot Inuit Association is now offering language classes to youth around the region.