“We Need It.” This Woman Is Revitalizing Her Native Language, One Class At A Time.

teaching Inuit language online

Our language is a huge part of our cultural identity.

During the European colonization of North America, many Native languages were banned in an effort to gain control of the region. As a result, many children were prohibited from using their own languages. Today, of an estimated 180,000 Inuit in the world, fewer than 40,000 can speak Inuktitut, one of the dialects spoken by the Inuit.

There are about 65,000 Inuit currently living in Canada. Miali Coley-Sudlovenick is a 40-year-old student at University of Calgary who is majoring in international Indigenous studies. She has spent much of her life fighting for Indigenous rights and fighting human rights violations. As one of the few people who still speaks Inuktitut, she is passionate about preserving and expanding the language to keep it from dying out completely.

“Asking why this is important is just like asking why water is important,” said Miali. “We need it, there’s an innate need inside us searching for a part of ourselves we can identify with. I want to give people their language, and allow them to grasp something they’ve been searching for.”

Miali has been tutoring others in Inuktitut for 10 years now. She dreamed of taking her mission even further, so in 2021, she launched an online course to teach the language to anyone who wants to learn it, no matter where they live. She offers the course through her business, Allurvik, which also sells a variety of Inuit-made products and services. They even have a podcast that features both English and Inuktitut.

“To be able to advocate for my community and be an activist for all Indigenous people, I need to be able to explain myself in a way that’s truly Inuit,” Miali explained. “Doing that in English isn’t enough. By connecting with our language, I’m offered a much stronger foundation than doing (it in) English. It inspires me to keep going in my work to restore and revitalize our language.”

Miali believes that speaking their native tongue helps them connect to their ancestors and land. This connection is ingrained in their culture, helping them understand who they are and how they fit into their communities. She’s pleased to be able to use technology to bring her language to anyone in the world.

“Many people want to learn Inuktitut but don’t have the access or the supports in place,” she said. “All I want to do is to make Inuktitut a little more accessible, especially to Inuit who want to learn and anyone else who’s interested. I hope my work also inspires others to make Indigenous languages more widely available.”

Miali said, “My generation is responsible for picking up the pieces to reclaim our identities, our cultures, and our languages,” and we couldn’t agree more! We can’t erase the atrocities of the past, but we can do our part to promote and celebrate cultural diversity now, and in the future.

Please share this story to spread awareness of Miali’s work.

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