ITK adopts Inuktut Qaliujaaqpait as writing system

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Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami’s board of directors has adopted Inuktut Qaliujaaqpait as the organization’s writing system. 

The decision was made at a board meeting in Rankin Inlet last week.

“Approval of Inuktut Qaliujaaqpait is a crucial step toward strengthening Inuktut across Inuit Nunangat… Our current writing systems were introduced through the process of colonization. The unified Inuktut writing system will be a writing system created by Inuit for Inuit in Canada.” says ITK president Natan Obed.
photo courtesy Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

Although controversial, basing written Inuktut on the Roman alphabet makes it easier to type, text and use various forms of information technology such as standard keyboard layouts; younger Inuit are generally more familiar with the Roman alphabet than syllabics and the Roman alphabet allows options for certain sounds in Inuit dialects that don’t have standardized syllabic symbols, according to ITK.

“It is important to note that Inuktut Qaliujaaqpait does not replace syllabics – regions can and will continue use of syllabics and other distinct writing systems. There is no expectation that people who already use older writing systems will have to change the way they write. Older writing systems will continue to be taught to younger generations,” an ITK news release issued Thursday states, describing Inuktut Qaliujaaqpait as being “developed by Inuit, for Inuit.”  

For centuries, nine different Inuktut writing systems have been in use across Inuit Nunangat, comprising Nunavut, the Inuvialuit region of the NWT, northern Quebec and Labrador. A call for a standardized Inuktut writing system has been growing over the past decade. 

“It has long been understood that an Inuit-centered education system must be bilingual and restore the central role of the Inuit language,” ITK’s news release reads. “The public education system has not significantly incorporated Inuktut into its structure and Inuktut language resources are still limited. Adequate resources are key components for developing curriculum standards and supporting systems in providing Inuit-centered learning environments and positive outcomes for students and bilingual teachers.”