Who we are

About Ilitaqsiniq – Nunavut Literacy Council

Ilitaqsiniq – Nunavut Literacy Council was founded in 1999, branching off from the NWT Literacy Council when Nunavut was established as a territory. Ilitaqsiniq promotes and supports literacy initiatives in the official languages of Nunavut with respect for the principals of community capacity building and development.

Our members include adult educators, literacy practitioners, Government of Nunavut departments and policy makers, non-profit organizations, schools, libraries, and individuals.

Ilitaqsiniq has developed partnerships with Nunavut Arctic College, Department of Education, Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth, employers, daycares, Aboriginal Head Start programs, libraries, the Regional Inuit Associations, and schools.

Ilitaqsiniq currently has five staff members who are based in Cambridge Bay, Rankin Inlet and Ottawa.

We are incorporated under the Nunavut Societies Act #SOC 1442. Charitable Organization Registration number is #89084 2123 RC0001.

The work of Ilitaqsiniq includes:

Conducting community-based research into literacy, language and learning in Nunavut.

Developing bilingual resources for families, schools and adult learning programs.

Working with community groups to build the necessary skills to deliver local projects

Advising governments on literacy and language-related issues. Our work informs public policy.

Promoting literacy in Nunavut through the celebration of Nunavut Literacy Week, National Family Literacy Day and Inuktitut Uqauttin Week.

The Meaning of our name

Our Inuktitut name — Ilitaqsiniq — means “continuous learning” or, literally, “continuous recognition of the world around us.” Our name reflects a broad understanding of literacy practices or literacies.  Skills related to these literacy practices are developed within, shaped by and vary with context or environment.

In the unique cultural context of Nunavut, literacy practices can include:

An Elder using the Inuit language to share legends to a group of school children.

A mother reading with her young children at bedtime.

A grandfather teaching his grandson to read the land and sky to support his way finding skills.

A community member writing a letter to the local paper to give her opinion on an important community issue.

A program coordinator managing a project budget.

In keeping with a broad concept of literacy, Ilitaqsiniq defines literacy as “seeing and knowing what you see,” a definition developed by Inuit Elders in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut.

Under ‘OUR WORK’ check out ‘Models of Learning’ to learn more about how Ilitaqsiniq creates culture-based non-formal learning programs that bridge traditional and contemporary literacies.

Our History

n 1989, a group of northerners received funding from the federal government to organize a conference on literacy. The purpose of this conference was to gauge interest in starting a Literacy Coalition for the NWT. The group was motivated, in part, by the United Nation’s International Year of Literacy and by available funding from the federal government for literacy projects.

Over 100 people from all regions of the NWT attended the conference. By the end of the conference, an‘Interim Council’ wasformed to do the groundwork for holding a founding convention. The Interim Council developed by-laws and established balanced representation between all regions of the Northwest Territories.

A founding convention was held and delegates came from every community to meet in Yellowknife. The convention adopted the by-laws and elected the first officers of the NWT Literacy Council. Edna Elias was the first NWT Literacy Council president.

In the first year, volunteer board members ran the NWT Literacy Council. In 1991, a half-time Executive Director was hired. For the first few years, the Literacy Council focused on developing its mandate and developing a strong organization. The Board consciously chose to promote and support literacy in all official languages of the NWT and to support communities and community-based literacy initiatives. The organization actively raised the profile of literacy through the Peter Gzowski Invitational (PGI) golf tournament, Read for 15, NWT Literacy Week, the NWT Writing Contest and other promotional activities.

In 1994-95, the Literacy Council hired its first full-time Executive Director and hosted the “Literacy Matters” conference. This conference attracted literacy practitioners from every community in the NWT. The conference also provided the Literacy Council with a stronger mandate in program and practitioner support.

In 1996, the Literacy Council initiated the Family and Community Literacy Development project as a way of providing information, training and resources to people in communities interested in or working in literacy and adult basic education. The Council also increased its advocacy role and its outreach services to communities.

In 1999, with the creation of Nunavut, the NWT Literacy Council divided into two new councils. The Nunavut Literacy Council was founded in 1999.

In 2011, the board and staff chose to add ‘Ilitaqsiniq’ to our name. Our new name was inspired by the definition of literacy, ‘seeing and knowing what you see’ developed by a group Elders in Gjoa Haven.

‘History’ republished (with some changes) with permission from the NWT Literacy Council.