Canada History Week 2022 Learning Tool

Activity 5.3 Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk and Indigenous Language Revitalization Before European colonization, Indigenous peoples spoke a wide variety of languages – there were an estimated 300 languages spoken on Turtle Island before colonization. As a means of assimilating Indigenous peoples, colonial policies like the Indian Act and the residential school system forbade the speaking of Indigenous languages (see Genocide and Indigenous Peoples in Canada). These restrictions have led to the ongoing endangerment of Indigenous languages in Canada, though in recent years, many Indigenous people and groups have led the drive to preserve and promote these languages. Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk wrote one of the first novels in Inuktitut, and wrote twenty-two books on Inuit tradition, hunting and fishing practices, the Inuktitut language, and northern landscapes. This canon of writing is considered to be an Inuit-specific set of encyclopedias, and is still in use in schools across Nunavik. Canada History Week 2022 Learning Tool Linguistic plurality is a cornerstone of modern Canadian identity, but the history of language in Canada is not a simple story. Language has been used historically by Indigenous peoples and French-Canadian communities (and other diverse language communities) to resist an English-speaking Canadian society determined to create a homogeneous BritishCanadian national state. This history of resistance has helped define our social and political climate. For nearly a century after the formation of modern-day Canada, French-language education was restricted or banned in several provinces, and unrest grew in French communities as they advocated for the protection of their language and more opportunities in federal institutions. A side-effect of this plurality is the distinct nature and growth of French-language literature and writers in Canada. To learn more, read the TCE articles on Quebec and Acadian literature, and explore the Official Languages Act Education Guide. 1. Watch the Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk video and read her biography on The Canadian Encyclopedia. 2. Read the Indigenous Language Revitalization in Canada article on TCE. 3. As a class discuss the following: a) What role did Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk play in preserving and revitalizing her language? b) What role did literature play in preserving her language? What role did Nappaaluk play in promoting Inuit literature? c) Why is it important to preserve and teach diverse languages in Canada? d) Why should we strive for representation in literature? e) In what way can language preservation be seen as an act of resistance? f) In what way does literature help to preserve a language? g) Have you ever read a book or poem that spoke about or was written in another language? The Truth and Reconciliation Commission published a list of 94 Calls to Action, which offer specific ways that Canadian society can help address the injustices experienced by Indigenous peoples. Calls 13-17 pertain specifically to language and culture – read them here. 20. Mitiarjuk video