Unless you stumbled on this post by accident, you would be aware that I am writing from Inuvik in Canada's Northwest Territories. There are three main people groups in Inuvik:
1. Inuit, which in this area of the Western Arctic are called Inuvialuit - approximately 40%
2. First Nations (mainly Gwich'in), Métis and other Aboriginal - approximately 25%
3. Non-native (mostly "Southerners") - about 35%
I work with the Inuvialuit, so I am trying to learn a few words of the local language, which is called "Inuvialuktun". What makes it confusing is that you can't just learn one version of Inuvialuktun if you want to be understood in all the six communities, because there are 3 dialects spoken in this region, each with slight differences:
· Uummarmiut meaning "people of the evergreens and willows" is spoken in the tree-lined inland communities of Aklavik and Inuvik.
· Siglit (its meaning is debated) is spoken in the coastal communities of Tuktoyaktuk, Paulatuk and Sachs Harbour.
· Kangiryuarmiut meaning "people of the large bay" is spoken in the community of Ulukhaktok (Holman) on Victoria Island. However, the people of Ulukhaktok (Holman) prefer to call their dialect Inuinnaqtun due to their strong ties with the people of the Central Arctic.
Nonetheless, I have tried to learn a few words. There are classes provided at the community centre (the Midnight Sun Complex) in the dialect that is spoken in Inuvik, Uummarmuit. I haven't joined any classes yet, but I was able to go into the classroom and take pictures of some of the posters on the walls.
I will try to add more words as I go along. For now, ilaatnilu! (goodbye)