Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit: What Inuit have always known to be true

"It is only through deeply knowing one’s culture that Inuit will be able to more successfully negotiate in the world facing them today. It is also critical to know that one’s culture is valued and useful in its own right and is a platform from which to engage more fully and on equal terms in a much more global dialogue."
Shirley Tagalik

In December 2013, the Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit team, comprised of Inuit Elders, facilitators and academics, were awarded a grant of $240,000 through the Arctic Inspiration Prize (AIP) to develop a book on Inuit worldviews. The book, Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit –What Inuit have always known to be true, will document the core beliefs, philosophies, values, language and social systems of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit based on the experiences of the last generation who lived according to these worldviews. Inuit Elders know that Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit has something very important and unique to offer to the next generation of Inuit, particularly in a rapidly changing and challenging world. They also believe that Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit will be of value to the non-Inuit world including researchers in all fields and disciplines.

A final dialogue circle as part of this project was co-hosted by the Arviat Wellness Centre and the National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health (NCCAH) in Arviat, Nunavut in August 2014. The gathering included Inuit Elders Attoat Akittirq, Alice Ayalik, Rhoda Karetak, and Louis Angalik, and invited guests including the Honourable Landon Pearson, Giovanna Mingarelli1 (Global Dignity Canada), and Lisa Wolff (UNICEF Canada). Shirley Tagalik facilitated a discussion on the importance of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit for Inuit and non-Inuit, and how cultural and Indigenous knowledges can be maintained for the future. Listening to these stories, Ms. Mingarelli understood how Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit is not “only important for Inuit youth to be able to maintain their culture, but…also of critical importance for preserving an ancient wisdom that could be of benefit to the world at large.”

Short videos are now being produced by the NCCAH as part of the series, "Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit: The role of Indigenous knowledge in supporting wellness in Inuit communities in Nunavut". The first of these videos, "Rhoda’s Dream: Burying the Baby", is now complete. Based on a dream recounted by Rhoda Karetak, this video depicts her encounter and near burial of a baby girl who is gravely ill. Hearing the cries of the baby, Rhoda turns back and pulls the baby back out of the earth. The child’s cries turn to giggles and sunshine replaces the dark skies under which this event occurred. Reflecting on this dream, Rhoda draws parallels between burying the sick baby and burying Inuit culture and wisdom, as well as the urgency to revive Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit.

 


Mingarelli, G. (2014). How Inuit Elders are preserving their history and the wisdom of the North. Huffington Post – the Blog, August 23. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/giovanna-mingarelli/inuit-elders-history-_b_5698664.html

© Photo Credit: James Tagalik and Kukik Baker.

 

Connect with the NCCAH