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Inuktitut Literacy

Literacy is a source of power, self-esteem, and identity.  It is a necessary tool for the promotion of economic, social and cultural wellbeing throughout Nunavut.  Ilisaqsivik Society seeks to empower children in our community by improving Inuktitut language skills.  We run a variety of programs to encourage children to read and enjoy books, magazines, newspapers, and their own writing.  Our Inuktitut Curriculum Development Specialist coordinates our Inuktitut teachers, develops lesson plans and resource materials, and oversees program development in consultation with an Inuktitut Literacy Advisory Committee.  Currently, our literacy initiatives include the following programs, as well as our Literacy Radio Show:

Inuktitut Literacy Advisory Committee – A group of dynamic elders meets once a month with our children’s programming teachers to guide content development.  The committee identifies themes and terminology to teach, identifies elder experts in different subjects, and suggests possible individuals who have interesting stories to document.

After-School Literacy Project –  Monday through Friday from 3:30 − 5:00 pm, 40 − 55 children participate in our after-school literacy project at the Ilisaqsivik Family Resource Centre. Instruction is entirely in Inuktitut, and children focus on Inuktitut reading and writing, literacy games, and cultural activities including crafts, stories from Elders, as well as traditional games and seasonal activities.  Parents are invited to join for special activities, and instructors regularly send notes home informing parents of ways they can encourage and aid children in literacy.

Tutoring Initiative – Ilisaqsivik Literacy Teachers offer extra support to children in primary grades, working one on one with them during school and in the After-School Program.  Ilisaqsivik teachers work with the school to identify students who need extra help with Inuktitut literacy.  We encourage those students and their parents to attend the After School Literacy program, to help them with extra work in Inuktitut that makes learning fun and takes advantage of the support of other kids who enjoy the program.  These students receive focused, one-on-one support during their attendance and have a chance to access the unique learning materials offered at Ilisaqsivik.

Pre Literacy Program

Ilisaqsivik Society recognizes the importance of learning literacy skills early.  For this reason, Inuktitut Literacy is taught during Pre School and Parents and Tots at Ilisaqsivik Society’s Family Resource Centre.  Literacy teachers assist regular instructors to design lesson plans and teach pre-literacy skills in Inuktitut to participants.  One of the most important components of this activity is the work that literacy teachers do with parents in order to teach them how to teach their children to read and write in Inuktitut.  Lesson plans emphasize Inuit culture and rely heavily on the use of traditional stories, crafts, songs, and games in order to teach literacy skills.  This program currently operates 5 days/week from 1:30 – 3:00 pm.

Literacy Circle

Ilisaqsivik Society hosts a monthly Literacy Circle with Elders, who talk about topics including hunting, sewing, childbirth, parenting, justice, and other Inuit Societal Values.  A Literacy Instructor facilitates this activity by writing down new words and their meanings in Inuktitut.  Elders help teach pronunciation and the correct meaning of each word or phrase.  We have also begun to make audio and video recordings and transcriptions of these sessions in order to create literacy teaching materials.

(Literacy programs are funded by the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth).