Words of Inspiration

“We speak at this moment in Inuttitut. We learned this from our parents who learned it from their parents and so on. This has been our education. We are not different from the Japanese, Germans and others. We will pass our language to our children. The people should not think that the education system we have now is the only education system. We have elders that are equal to professors and we can be educated in Inuttitut…Since the government started educating Inuit, the culture has slowly eroded. The passing on of cultural knowledge has been neglected by parents. Teaching how to read, write and speak well in Inuttitut in classrooms is the purpose of the school. But we have to rejuvenate the teaching of moral tradition and culture in the home by the parents. This is part of teaching. My grandmother was teaching up to the day she died. She talked about family, ways to keep a good life, respect, and so forth. Just because children are stent to school does not mean we have to give up our share of teaching them about life…The white man’s way is also interfering with our teaching tradition, for example, when a youth is 18under the white law he is considered a grown man and capable of taking care of himself. This creates disrespect. Under the Inuit way of teaching, an Inuk was not an adult until he was capable of providing for the family or the community. If these traditions are kept alive by the parents outside of school, it can help us to keep our language and culture. I am talking about parents’ responsibility that seems to have been thrown at the schools, schools that can only teach the white way.”

Kangirsuk, Nunavik, Quebec resident, January 26, 1991

“We did not get control of our own school boards, our corporations, so that we could carry on the philosophies and objectives of the federal administrators of the 1950s. We have the means to promote our traditions, culture, and language, at least within our region…

“Assuming that the long term plan for the region is that it is to be a homeland for Inuit, in tradition, culture, and language, all residents will be expected to be proficient in the language of the Inuit, in the same way as Inuit are now expected to be proficient in French or English. Let’s get radical.”

Jobie Weetaluktuk, June 25, 1990. Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, Quebec.

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