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Use It or Lose It: Inuit Language Week in Full Swing

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Inuit and other indigenous people have long fought for the right to speak and be spoken to in their own languages. But the best way to ensure that that continues is by regular usage, Nunavut officials say.

“The Inuit Language is our own unique way of expressing ourselves and a wonderful reason to celebrate every day,” said James Arreak, Minister of Languages, in a statement.

“Nunavummiut have the right to use and be served in the official language of their choice from government offices,” said Nunavut Languages Commissioner Alexina Kublu.“The Official Languages Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act is only one aspect of the struggle to protect languages. The best way to ensure survival of a language is through regular use.”

They were kicking off Inuit Language Week, or Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq, which goes from February 7–11 and includes a host of activities throughout the territory.

It’s an attempt to reverse a decline in the use of the Inuit language in Nunavut homes, the territory’s press release said. Over the past 10 years it has dropped from 60 percent to 53 percent, prompting the languages minister and commissioner to challenge Nunavummiut “to reverse this trend, not only during Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq but everyday,” the press release said.

Various activities are promoting the use of the language, including an Inuit Language Standardization Symposium from February 8–11 hosted by the Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit (Inuit Language Authority) in Iqaluit. In addition, schools have received packages outlining Inuit Language activities, and a set of language posters is being launched. There’s also a contest for Nunavut government employees to submit an Inuktitut Word of the Day and win prizes.