New books for students
Inuktitut texts will help

Joanasie Eegeesiak
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (Mar 15/99) - During a celebration that took place last month in Iqaluit's Parish Hall, several new books written in Inuktitut were launched.

"We're celebrating aboriginal languages, in particular Inuktitut, and in our area, we're celebrating the publication of new Baffin Division Education Council books we have just launched," said Gwen Coffin, co-ordinator of the aboriginal languages celebration.

Ten new books were produced, five of which were story books for young children and five were novels intended for high school aged readers.

The launching of the new books means the total of Inuktitut textbooks now in circulation is up to about 240, compared to the thousands that are written for English-speaking students.

"What we're trying to do is make up some of that difference. We're trying to make literacy available in Inuktitut," said Coffin.

Coffin said the books geared toward older readers were made to look like those found in book stores or on the shelves at Northern stores. This appeals to youth, who will see the books as legitimate reading choices.

"It's all meant to help kids develop...superior literacy in their own language," said Coffin.

Simon Nattaq teaches Inuktitut at the Inuksuk high school in Iqaluit. He said these books would help him in his teaching.

"It helps me a lot because reading stories is the best thing for all the students here in school and just telling

them is a lot of fun as well," said Nattaq.

Coffin explained that the board of education was working on getting another set of books published, which would be completed later this year and made available to students this fall.

"We're really trying to increase the number of books that we have available, particularly for older readers," said Coffin.

In order to develop these new books, the board is willing to look at manuscripts written in Inuktitut by the people of Nunavut.

So, if you've written stories and then simply hidden them under your bed or in a shoebox, don't be shy -- call the school board in Iqaluit.