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October 31, 2023 – St. Laurent, Quebec – A signing ceremony took place yesterday at the start of the Uqausivut Illirijavut Conference. The conference is being hosted by the Avataq Cultural Institute to support the Inuit language. The signatories included Pita Aatami, President of Makivvik, and William Tagoona, President of the Avataq Cultural Institute. By virtue of this historic partnership created through a memorandum of understanding, Avataq will have access to stable long-term funding, allowing it to implement vital language initiatives stemming from decades of cultural research in support of the Inuit language. It includes an amount up to $36-million over the next five years to support language work in the 15 Inuit communities across the vast Nunavik region.
“Putting my signature on a document that will turn hundreds of years of language suppression and change course towards revitalizing Inuktitut is a proud moment. I give honour to Makivvik for giving us unprecedented remarkable support. Now our language experts in Nunavik can begin to do their work,” says Avataq President William Tagoona.
A portion of these funds were secured by Makivvik through Heritage Canada under the Indigenous Language Component (ILC) program scheduled to run from 2023-2028. The ILC program provides 14-million in funding over the 5-year period with Makivvik planning to commit up to an additional 22-million in funding between 2024 and 2028.
During the Uqausivut Illirijavut Conference yesterday, Avataq reported on the thorough community consultations that have taken place leading up to the publishing of the Illirijavut – That Which We Treasure report in 2012. The report contains recommendations, which will now be able to be implemented, such as the creation of an Inuktitut Language Authority, and supporting the development of Inuit Heritage Centers in all Nunavik communities.
With the signing of this MOU, Makivvik shows confidence in the 5-year plan created by Avataq and Avataq’s role as the primary interlocutor in regards to the preservation, revitalization, promotion and strengthening of Inuktitut in Nunavik is reaffirmed. It also commits both parties to meet at least once a year to discuss priorities with regards to Inuktitut in Nunavik
“Avataq’s work creating this 5-year plan is encouraging and paves the path forward in the preservation of Inuktitut in Nunavik” said Makivvik President Pita Aatami. “Preserving and strengthening Inuktitut is a major priority for Makivvik and these funds will be the first step in safeguarding our language, a major pillar of our culture and identity” added President Aatami.
Zebedee Nungak, Avataq language Director and Specialist concluded, “The survival of our Inuktitut language is at a crossroads. We can either take the present course, which leads to its extinction, or turn course now towards a path that guarantees its survival.”
Director of Communications
Avataq Cultural Institute
Makivvik is the land claims organization mandated to manage the heritage funds of the Inuit of Nunavik provided for under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement. Makivvik’s role includes the administration and investment of these funds and the promotion of economic growth by providing assistance for the creation of Inuit-operated businesses in Nunavik. Makivvik promotes the preservation of Inuit culture and language as well as the health, welfare, relief of poverty, and education of Inuit in the communities.
Avataq Cultural Institute provides a strong foundation for the living culture of today’s Inuit. Since its inception in 1980, Avataq has built a solid reputation as the cultural leader for Nunavik Inuit and as an important resource for Inuit culture in Canada and beyond. Our goal is to ensure that Inuit culture and language continue to thrive into the future, so that our descendants can benefit from the rich heritage passed down to us through the wisdom of our ancestors.