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Preserving Inuvialuktun

Amos also translates elders' comments

Malcolm Gorrill
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 14/01) - By her own admission, Beverly Amos spends a lot of time in her office, wearing headphones and lost in her own little world.

NNSL Photo

As language specialist at the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre, Beverly Amos spends a lot of time transcribing and translating recorded interviews. - Malcolm Gorrill/NNSL photo

Amos became language specialist at the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre about two years ago. She said she spends a lot of time listening to audio tapes containing interviews with elders, so that she can translate their comments from Inuvialuktun into English.

"We're going to have the database set up so that you can just retrieve any kind of information you may need from the historical part of the Inuvialuit people," Amos explained.

"So that's really interesting. I get to listen to all that they did, and about all their life long ago, my people, so I really like that. I can't see myself working anywhere else."

Her job involves other duties. For instance, Amos travelled with the researchers who worked on the Siglit Inuvialuit Eskimo Dictionary, which was published earlier this year. She noted this was a little different because usually she works alone in her office, and isn't often involved in interviews.

Amos has also been involved in the language learning CDs, which the centre is expected to have available in January.

An Inuvialuit who grew up in Sachs Harbour, Amos said she feels it important to preserve Inuvialuktun.

"It's a part of you," she said. "I think it's what I'm supposed to do, for everybody, the young people. We need to keep our elders alive, and that's one way of doing this."

Amos grew up with Inuvialuktun and said that is only because her parents did not send her away to residential school, except for one year when she was about 10, so she could take Grade 1.

"There was no school in Sachs when I was growing up," Amos explained. "All the kids came to residential school, and so they were away for 10 months and they never learned our language."

Amos said in the late 1960s or early 1970s she was able to begin going to school in Sachs. Several years ago, after she and her family moved to Inuvik, she attended Aurora College for one year to finish her Grade 12.

Until recently Amos conducted her work out of her home, but now has an office in the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre's new home on Locheux Road. Amos also teaches Inuvialuktun to adults on her own time.

Amos said she took night classes in French last year, in part to better understand how her students feel when learning a new language.

"It feels like an accomplishment whenever I do something for the language," Amos said. "Some people should be so lucky, to have a job that they love."