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Nunavut online.

In the spring of 1999 an area of almost two million square kilometres of rocky tundra, fjords, mountains, plateaus, and archipelagos was carved from the eastern half of the Northwest Territories. After 13 years of intense negotiation between the Inuit people and the Government of Canada, Nunavut was created.

In a commemorative publication from the time, journalist and writer Ann Meekitjuk Hanson wrote: "The technical translation of nunavut is simply "our land." The emotional, spiritual, deeper meaning of nunavut or nunavun is "our homeland." The unspoken meaning stresses "home." To some Inuit, with deeper knowledge of the language, when nunavut is spoken, the silent understanding means "we share in this together, unconditionally," and there is an intense gratitude."

The idea that understanding "nunavut" hinges on one's fluency in Inuktitut is as significant today as it was in 1999. Over the past ten years, the Nunavummiut--the plural for residents of Nunavut--have made great progress in preserving and promoting their culture and language. While few Canadians may be fortunate enough to travel to Nunavut to see how the Nunavummiut continue to promote their cultural and linguistic identity, several local, regional, and territorial examples can be found online.

Office of the Languages Commissioner of Nunavut http://langcom.nu.ca/

With the adoption of the Nunavut Officia/Languages Act approaching, a visit to the Office of the Languages Commissioner of Nunavut's (OLC) website is worthwhile. The Commissioner's symbol--the saxifrage flower, or aupilattunnguaq in Inuk titut, is protected by the qilaut--the Inuit drum. These symbols represent the resilience and diversity of the Nunavummiut. The Languages Commissioner of Nunavut, Alexina Kublu, has been an active proponent of standards in support of Inuktitut, and the site is a valuable source of information, ranging from detailed annual reports, statistics, and news releases to links for downloading Pigiarniq and Uqammaq computer fonts.

Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated www.tunngavik.com

The NTI was preceded by Tunngavik Federation of Nunavut who signed the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement on behalf of Inuit. The NTI legally represents Nunavut's Inuit population. One of the NTI's chief obligations is to see that the Government of Canada and the Government of Nunavut abide by their obligations made under the Agreement. The NTI plays a central role in Nunavut with a mandate to ensure "Inuit economic, social and cultural well-being through implementation of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement."

Regional Associations

In Nunavut, three Regional Inuit Associations (RIAs) represent the Nunavummiut: the Kivalliq Inuit Association (www.kivalliqinuitassociation.com/English/home/ main.html), the Kitikmeot Inuit Association (www.kitia.ca/en/about-kia), and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (www.qia. ca/i18n/english). These three bodies were created through the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. The RIAs manage land and resources, and represent the cultural, economic, social, and environmental interests of the Inuit people. The Kivalliq, Kitikmeot, and Qikiqtani Association websites provide community profiles, annual reports, and multilingual publications. Of particular interest is the Qikiqtani Inuit Association's "Myths and Legends Project," which is an online collection of Inuit art, traditional stories, and personal interviews with Nunavummiut Elders collected by CBC North.

Local Online Initiatives

Until recently, going online for the average Nunavummiut was a challenge. Internet service was limited and what was offered was very slow. More recently, service has improved as the Inuit-owned company Qiniq began offering a more advanced satellite and wireless network. As a result, more Nunavummiut are going online and promoting their language and culture to the world.

Isuma.tv www.isuma.tv

One example of an Inuit-managed site is Isuma.tv--a multilingual site that offers a virtual space for Nunavummiut to express themselves via video, audio, or images. Similar to YouTube, Isuma.tv allows Nunavummiut to upload personal videos, podcasts, or pictures and start a corresponding blog. Some interesting projects include the SILA Inuktitut Dictionary where Elders are either filmed or recorded speaking instructional Inuktitut, and the Exploring Inuit Culture Online video channel where individuals upload stories or experiences that relate to traditional Inuit culture. The site is a side project of Igloolik Isuma Productions: the first independent Inuit video production company and producers of the internationally acclaimed film Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner.

With the adoption of the new Language Act and increasing improvements to remote Internet service, the next ten years will be exciting times to watch as Nunavummiut increasingly go online to share their language, views, and culture.

Tanya Driechel is a librarian and community programmer with the Legal Resource Centre in Edmonton, Alberta.
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Title Annotation:Online Law
Author:Driechel, Tanya
Publication:LawNow
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Sep 1, 2009
Words:739
Previous Article:Ikajarutit: delivering legislative library services in an Inuktitut language environment.
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