Mentor-Apprentice Immersion Program
The recovery and revitalization of Inuinnaqtun relies on our ability teach the next generation of fluent speakers and then encourage and foster the transmission of Inuinnaqtun with each new generation. We’re initiating a Mentor-Apprentice Program, and working with partners at the University of Victoria for guidance and advice on the development of an Inuit-led Mentor-Apprentice Program and the implementation of a pilot program that will pair fluent speakers with future language carriers for one-on-one immersion.
Language & Knowledge from 100 year-old Ethnographic Sources
The Danish Fifth Thule Expedition visited the Inuinnait in the winter of 1923/24. Expedition ethnographer Knud Rasmussen recorded approximate 1800 terms in two word lists, and published these lists in the report “Intellectual Culture of the Copper Eskimos” in 1932. The PI/KHS initiated a project in 2017 to have an Inuinnaqtun specialist work with Elders to verify and transcribe a list of Umingmaktuurmiut words, and a comparative list of Umingmaktuurmiut and Kangirjuarmiut words from the orthography used by the Expedition to a modern standard Inuinnaqtun. The results of the project are available in this web publication.
Extracting 100 year-old Oral Traditions
During the winter of 1923/24 Fifth Thule Expedition ethnographer Knud Rasmussen worked intensely with four Inuinnait then living in a sealing camp at Malirihiurvik - Netsiit, Hêq, Tatilgak and Hikhik. These four Inuinnait provided many of the songs and stories published in the Expedition report “Intellectual Culture of the Copper Eskimos” in 1932. The PI/KHS initiated a project to have a number of the published songs and stories transcribed from the orthography used by the Expedition to a modern standard Inuinnaqtun. They can be viewed as a web publication or on the Fifth Thule Expedition Atlas.
Interpreting Ethnographic Collections
In December 2017 PI/KHS staff travelled with Elders Bessie Pihuaq Omilgoetok and Joseph Tikhak to study a selection of the 377 ethnographic objects collected by Knud Rasmussen from their ancestors in the winter of 1923/24. Video interviews were conducted with the Elders naming the artifacts and their parts, and explaining the traditional use of the items. These multimedia materials will be a very valuable resource for revitalization.
Language Documentation Workshops
Due to the rapid changes in Inuinnait lifeways since settling in communities, we are in a position where many domains of language related to traditional life are rarely used or ‘sleeping’. The PI/KHS runs annual documentation workshops, working with Elders, fluent speakers and language specialists to record vocabulary in traditional domains for which only our oldest generations have personal experience.
Inuinnaqtun Documentation Tool
It is going to take a collaboration of available human resources to tackle Inuinnaqtun revitalization and a comprehensive documentation of the language is one key activity. In partnership with Dr. Kumiko Murasugi, School of Linguistics and Language Studies, Carleton University, the PI/KHS has developed an online tool where specialists can collaborate by entering vocabulary as well as related multimedia.