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Historical essay on Inuit Studies

You have probably heard that every two years, researchers, both Inuit and Qallunaat, use to meet together, wishing to share what they seek to understand about various topics dealing with the Inuit. These big meetings are called the Inuit Studies Conferences. There also exists a magazine published twice a year, that tells about Inuit culture, language, and way of life; it is titled Études Inuit Studies. Both of these, the conferences and the magazine, have been created and managed since almost fifty years by a team of people known as Inuksiutiit Katimajiit (“Those who join together about Inuit matters”). In the present text, both of us—Luui (Louis-Jacques Dorais) and Pirnaq (Bernard Saladin d’Anglure)— tell the story of these Inuksiutiit Katimajiit: how they developed from the 1970s until now, trying to disseminate knowledge about how Inuit understand their own way of life.

During the 1960s, a number of anthropology students from Montreal and Quebec City were sent to Nunavik, with Bernard Saladin d’Anglure as their tutor. In those times, since a majority of Inuit didn’t speak any English, almost all students became fluent in Inuktitut. Because they knew the language, they progressively came to understand quite well how people were thinking about the world, the land, life, and other things, and also what was important to them. Then, these students really wished to make known to anyone, Qallunaat as well as other Inuit, the reflections and matters of importance just mentioned.

In 1970, this team of researchers chose a name for themselves: the Inuksiutiit Group. Almost all of them were now studying at Université Laval in Quebec City, supervised by Bernard Saladin d’Anglure. While some researchers continued to travel to Nunavik, others went to Nunavut, conducting research in Iqaluit and Igloolik. In 1971, Bernard became a professor at Laval, and Louis-Jacques Dorais did likewise in 1972.

During the 1970s, the Nunavik Inuit were trying to reach an agreement with the Canadian and Quebec governments. Because some Inuit leaders distrusted Université Laval, probably thinking that it might be party to the Quebec government, they wished to be assisted in their research activities by independent researchers, not affiliated with any university or government. So, wanting to assist Inuit, the Inuksiutiit team of researchers established an independent non-profit corporation in 1974, called Association Inuksiutiit Katimajiit Inc. Its three founders were: Bernard Saladin d’Anglure, Jimmy Innaarulik Mark (from Ivujivik), and Louis- Jacques Dorais. The corporation’s objective was as follows: to develop and disseminate knowledge about the culture and language of the Inuit.

Between 1975 and 2003, Association Inuksiutiit Katimajiit published a number of books in Inuktitut, such as Salome Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk’s novel Sanaaq, and Taamusi Qumaq’s dictionary Inuit Uqausillaringit (co-published with the Avataq Cultural Institute). In 1977, the magazine Études Inuit Studies was launched, appearing regularly up to now. And the Inuit Studies Conferences started in 1978. They have continued being held until today (2022), their organization and contents being progressively taken in charge by the Inuit.

With a presentation by Daniel Chartier.

This book is published by the International Laboratory for Research on Images of the North, Winter and the Arctic, directed at the Université du Québec à Montréal by Daniel Chartier, in co-edition with Inuksiutiit Katimajiit Association.

Louis-Jacques Dorais and Bernard Saladin d'Anglure, Inuksiutiit. Un demi-siècle d'études inuit. Inuksiutiit. A Half-Century of Inuit Studies. ᐃᓄᒃᓯᐅᑏᑦ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᒥᑦᓵᓄᑦ ᖃᐅᔨᓭᒐᓱᐊᕐᑎᓗᒋᑦ ᐅᑭᐅᓂᑦ 50ᓂᑦ, Montréal, Imaginaire | Nord et Québec, Association Inuksiutiit Katimajiit, «Isberg» series, 2023, 183p.

In bookstore on August 30th, 2023