Nunavut celebrates Inuktut, Inuit culture this month

Inuit clothing the focus of month-long celebration, Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq


In 2016, the theme of Nunavut's Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq month-long celebration of Inuktut is Inuit Annuraqausingit, or Inuit clothing. (IMAGE COURTESY OF THE GN)

In 2016, the theme of Nunavut’s Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq month-long celebration of Inuktut is Inuit Annuraqausingit, or Inuit clothing. (IMAGE COURTESY OF THE GN)

A new name and a longer celebration: that’s what Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq, Nunavut’s annual celebration of Inuktut and Inuit culture, is bringing to Nunavut for the month of Febriuary.

Nunavut’s celebration of Inuktut, was first called Inuktitut Uqauttin or “speaking in the Inuit way” (in the Igloolik dialect), and lasted for only a week.

Uqauttin, the traditional plural form of uqausiq (“word,” “language”), still used in Greenlandic (spelled as oqaatsit), in Inupiaq and Inuvialuktun (uqauchit/uqautit), and in other western dialects of Inuktut, was commonly used by previous generations in the eastern Arctic, but it is not used very much now, according to the Government of Nunavut.

So, after consulting with communities across Nunavut about the name, the name changed in 2005 to Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq, which means “celebration of our language.”

The 2016 celebration also brings a special theme to Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq — Inuit Annuraqausingit, or Inuit clothing.

“This theme celebrates our rich and artistic heritage,” said Nunavut’s minister of Languages George Kuksuk. “I invite all Nunavummiut to take time to celebrate and learn more about the innovation of Inuit clothing and design, and its related terminology throughout February.”

As part of this year’s celebration, the GN’s Department of Culture and Heritage will release recordings of the 2015 winners of Qilaut, Nunavut’s annual Inuktut music contest.

The winning songs will be available online and as a CD.

Boxes of Inuktut resources will also be delivered to every school, daycare and library in Nunavut, the GN said in a recent release about Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq.

The boxes include books, flash cards, posters and information about the 2016 theme.

You can also find activities online here on the GN’s website devoted to the 2016 Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq month.

This week, language is also the focus of the Apqutauvugut, or “we the path,” conference in Iqaluit, which is gathering input from the translators and interpreters on the feasibility of a unified writing system for Inuktut.

The conference delegates also intend to review the specific needs of interpreter-translators, such as the possibility of codified terminology, training, ethics and centralized governance.

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