Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
October 7, 2000 - Issue 20

Avataq Takes New Action on Language, Culture
by Jane George Nunatsiaq News; photos by Emanuel Low

Nunavik’s Avataq cultural institute making new efforts to bridge gap between elders and youth.

Avataq board member Martha Kauki with Avataq president Robbie Watt
and staff member Taqralik Partridge preparing to spend the night
in the qammaq by the light of a seal oil qullik.

PUVIRNITUQ — As Nunavik’s Avataq culture institute moves into its 21st year, there's a renewed focus on language and culture.

Avataq’s president, Robbie Watt, said he sees a growing willingness to collaborate between younger and older Nunavimmiut, as well as among Nunavik’s various organizations.

"If this trend continues, we are going to salvage, protect and preserve the language," Watt said. "Language and culture deal with everyone, after all."

At Avataq’s recent elders’ conference, 30 elders and 30 youth spent a full week exchanging their concerns and learning new skills.

During the conference they inaugurated a new culture park in Akulivik. This park was paid for with Kativik regional employment and training funds, and built entirely by Akulivimmiut.

The park features a sod house, a large sealskin tent as well as fox traps and other examples of Inuit equipment.

"It's a permanent display," Watt said. "It's something that could be used as a teaching centre."

Regional money also went to each community to help elders and youth work together on developing a "survival kit" to share at the conference with all the participants. These kits contain such items as local herbs or handmade tools.

Watt wants to encourage communities to set up their own cultural committees. These, he said, could give elders more direction and contact with youth.

Avataq Cultural Institute



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