Date: March 28 – April 10, 2013
Partner: Canadian Language Museum
Venue: starting at Wilson Hall in New College – map
Project Members: Britt Holliss and Elaine Gold
Through interpretive text panels, physical demonstrations, and audio samples, the exhibition models accepted terminology and aims to gently dispel common misconceptions about Inuit languages including the infamous “words for snow” myth. Visitors can practice writing and pronouncing syllabic characters, compare gestures used for American Sign Language and Inuit Sign Language, and listen to short stories and dialogues recorded by an Inuk woman.
The creation and realization of this exhibition accompanies a very important time in Canadian history. Beginning this year, under the Inuit Language Protection Act, municipalities must offer services to the public in all three official languages; English, French, and Inuktitut (with dates for private sector services to be determined later). The Inuit Language Protection Act is the only Act in Canada which aims to protect and revitalize a first people’s language, yet most Canadians in the South are unfamiliar with it and know very little about Inuit culture. There is however, a growing interest as news coverage of Arctic communities has increased over the past few years: scientists have focused on the North to determine how it has been affected due to climate change and what this could mean for the rest of the country, the opening of the North West passage creates large implications for the tourism industry, investigations into the Franklin Expedition have romanticized the land for the general public, and large solo shows by international museums are being produced for Inuit artist to name only a few of the many ways the World is reconnecting with the Arctic.
As a “museum without walls”, the CLM continues to coordinate with other institutions who can host the exhibition in their space. Following the initial reception at Wilson Lounge in New College, Speaking The Inuit Way has been showcased at the Museum of Inuit Art with plans to send it to The Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery before being shipped across the country to the University of Victoria in British Columbia. This exhibition would not have been possible without support from MMSt instructor Matthew Brower, the Faculty of Information, and members of the Department of Linguistics; Dr. Elaine Gold, Dr. Alana Johns, Saila Michael.
Several organizations not only encouraged the formation of the exhibition with their positive feedback and interest but provided materials that were essential to the interactive nature of the exhibition. The materials and knowledge they contributed is greatly appreciated.
Sylvie Côté Chew Research, Archives and Documentation Avataq Cultural Institute Lynda Brown, BA (Hon) Family Literacy Coordinator Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre
James C. MacDougall President and CEO Canadian Deafness Research and Training Institute
Craig Clark Senior IM/IT Advisor Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
Lynn Peplinski Inuit Heritage Trust Incorporated