About a hundred Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun literacy kits have made their way into the hands of Inuit children.
It’s part of a fall pilot project by the Nunavut Bilingual Education Society, based in Iqaluit, to help get Inuit kids engaged in language literacy. The kits contain children’s books, colouring books and workbooks. It’s aimed at children from under one year old to 11 years old.
Jaypeetee Arnakak, the executive director of the society who is based in Toronto, said there’s long been an interest in getting resources like this to Inuit families.
“I think there’s always been a desire to have something like this for children — and not just in school, but also at home,” he said.
“It’s really important that we start teaching literacy to our children at an early age and to keep them exposed to books.”
Arnakak said the kits contain high-quality children’s books “with really bright and beautiful illustrations specifically targeted toward teaching children.”
The books in the kits are designed to make learning the language easier, he added.
“The quality of writing in these books [is] grammar-based,” he said, “so what is in the text is actually reflected in the illustrations so that there’s a consistent messaging.”
The Nunavut government’s culture and heritage department provided the funding for the distribution of the home literacy kits, he said.
Only 100 kits could be distributed for the time being and they are all spoken for, said Arnakak.
“This home literacy kit is really quite popular,” he said.
Books with colour-in illustrations are also available to be downloaded online off the society’s website.
He said it’s key to start teaching literacy to children at an early age and to keep them exposed to books and other materials in Inuit languages.
One of the challenges they faced was collecting Inuinnaqtun resources, but they managed to do so.
“We are very happy and pleased about that,” he said.
He said this year’s distribution started from the previous funding cycle, meaning it’s taken at least a year to plan this out. Arnakak said the society hopes to expand the program and add more features to it so that parents have some resources to engage their children in reading and writing.
“It’s our language,” he said. “We must value it.”