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2016 Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq

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Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq  February 1-29, 2016

Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq is Nunavut's annual celebration of Inuktut and Inuit culture. Let's learn and teach. Let's sing and tell stories. Let's take action together.

The theme for Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq 2016 is Inuit Annuraaqausingit ("Inuit clothing"). Inuit clothing technology enabled our ancestors to thrive in the Arctic environment. Our traditional and contemporary clothing designs are an important form of art and cultural expression, showing relationships, spirituality, and our perceptions of the world.

What Will You Do?

We can all practice, teach, promote, and celebrate Inuktut and Inuit culture. It is for communities, families, schools, and work places. What will you do this year?

February 21 is International Mother Tongue Language Day

Mother languages support wellbeing and community development. International Mother Language Day raises awareness about this. This day is also about the value of language diversity.

International Mother Tongue Language Day - February 21

Background on Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq

We have this celebration every February, at the same time as International Mother Language Day (Feb. 21). In past years, the celebration has been one to two weeks long. Starting in 2016, Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq takes place during the full month of February. This change is based on stakeholders' opinions that were gathered during our 2014 program review.

The purpose of this month-long celebration is to promote the use of Inuktut and to raise awareness about its importance, history, 

status and diversity across Nunavut. We also want to publicize Inuktut information and resources (in accordance with the Inuit Language Protection Act).

Inuktut is one of three aboriginal languages in Canada that has a chance of long-term survival. But, Inuktut will only survive if we take action. The use of Inuktut has slowly declined over the last few decades. According to Statistics Canada, the use of Inuktut in our homes dropped from 76% in 1996 to 64% in 2006. The change in Inuktut use at home is a warning sign, because home is where our children learn language first. 

Together, we can reverse the decline in Inuktut use. Our language still has a very strong foundation. And, our language is now protected under territorial laws. But, we must all take action—in our homes, schools, offices, and communities. 

What Can We Do?

What can individuals do? Use Inuktut every day. Share our language with others, especially our children. Practice by talking and writing with others. Find more fluent speakers for support. Each time you use Inuktut, you help to keep our language and culture strong.

The Government of Nunavut is committed to working in Inuktut and supporting the use of Inuktut throughout our society. We committed to this under the new language laws (the Official Languages Act and the Inuit Lanugage Protection Act). With input from people and organizations across Nunavut, we created a comprehensive plan to implement the new language laws. Our plan is called Uqausivut. 

Raising public appreciation for Inuktut and awareness of the issues is part of our plan. We want to raise the status of Inuktut in our daily lives. We want more people to speak Inuktut at home, in schools, in our communities, and at work. Day by day, our language will grow even stronger and our culture will continue to thrive.

About the Name: Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq

The first time we held this week-long celebration of Inuktut, it was called Inuktitut Uqauttin. That means “speaking in the Inuit way” (in the Igloolik dialect). 

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

We consulted with communities across Nunavut about the name. Based on those consultations, we changed the name to Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq in 2005. We chose this name because it can be understood in all dialects. It means “celebration of our language.”

What is “Inuktut”?

The Government of Nunavut now uses the term Inuktut to refer to all Inuit language dialects in Nunavut, This includes Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun. This term replaces the English phrase “the Inuit language.”