Leena Evic-Language Advocate – Under the Microscope

See on Scoop.itNunavut

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Nunavut, meaning “our land,” was carved out of the Northwest Territories in 1999, restoring Inuit autonomy and land rights. Today, the territorial government oversees a land area one-fifth the size of Canada and is a major client for the Microsoft Inuktitut Interface. Evic, now 55, founded the center that adapted Microsoft Office to Inuktitut. Based in Nunavut’s capital on Baffin Island, the Pirurvik Centre is a company working to revitalize Inuit language and culture and to bring Inuit language into computing. It just released the first Inuktitut language app for Apple mobile devices.

At the February 2012 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Vancouver, Evic spoke about Inuit history and the urgency of bringing Inuktitut language into the mainstream. After a two-day journey across Canada, she shared her perspectives from above the Arctic Circle with Sarah Jane Keller of the Science Communication Program at UC Santa Cruz.

[…]

Could you share some of your experience with boarding school? Were you able to use your language then?
Mine was a unique situation because the home at the boarding school had Inuit caretakers. We could speak our language in the residence, even though we were not encouraged to use it in the classroom. But when our language was not allowed or was discouraged, the kids that went through the boarding schools or residential schools either forgot the spoken language or lost much of it. The ones that went to school at a really young age were denied the opportunity to learn the writing system.

Teacher training in Nunavut and in the Northwest Territories was introduced in the 1970s, and that has been a saving grace for Inuktitut literacy in the classroom. We taught all the subject areas in our language.

You played a beautiful recording during your talk. Could you tell me about your music?
I’ve always loved music and it seemed to run in my family. When we got relocated, we had a mission hospital run by the diocese of England. The nurses and even the doctors spoke our language. Many of the nurses had musical talent, and they created a choir in the community. I love singing; I created many songs in the classroom for children, and I have recorded a children’s CD.

Music was big in the classroom when I was first a teacher. It’s just not the same in schools today. It’s something that should be introduced to kids at a very young age because it’s a therapeutic break from other pressures.

You mentioned that you loved growing up on the land. With all of your work and travel, do you still find time to make it out there?
We’re still a culture that enjoys living each season to the fullest. I love to camp every summer. I put up my tent in June and don’t take it down until fall. My work is very virtual, even when I’m here I’m working on my localization project. Sometimes I can even work when I’m on the land.

 

Sarah Jane Keller, a graduate student in the Science Communication Program at UC Santa Cruz, earned her bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Montana and her master’s degree in earth and planetary sciences at the University of New Mexico. Her internships at UCSC have included the Stanford University News Service, the Salinas Californian, and Wired.com. This summer, she will write for the news office at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. …”

See on www.underthemicroscope.com

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