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Cultural connections

Memorial, Nunatsiavut Government to host Inuit Studies Conference

Research | Frameworks in Action

By Jeff Green

More than 400 Inuit, researchers, tradition-bearers, community leaders and students will participate in 200 discussions and workshops over the course of four days next month as Memorial and the Nunatsiavut Government host the 20th biennial Inuit Studies Conference.

The event will take place on the St. John’s campus from Oct. 7-10, with a variety of activities taking place throughout the city. This is the second time the Inuit Studies Conference will be hosted by Memorial and the first time in the organization’s 40-year history that it is being co-hosted by an Inuit government.

Inuit traditions

Conference details were announced during a celebration at the LSPU Hall in St. John’s on Sept. 8, hosted by Dr. Tom Gordon, professor emeritus, School of Music. Dr. Richard Marceau, vice-president (research), took part in the announcement.

From left: Susan Onalik, St. John's Native Friendship Centre; Sean Lyall, minister of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, Nunatsiavut Government; Dr. Heather Igloliorte, artistic director of iNuit Blanche and curator of SakKijâjuk; Dr. Tom Gordon; and Dr. Richard Marceau.
From left, Susan Onalik, St. John’s Native Friendship Centre; Sean Lyall, minister, Culture, Recreation and Tourism, Nunatsiavut Government; Dr. Heather Igloliorte, artistic director, iNuit Blanche and curator of SakKijâjuk; Dr. Tom Gordon; and Dr. Richard Marceau.
Photo: Jeff Green

The theme of this year’s conference is Inuit traditions. Throughout the conference, delegates will explore disciplines ranging from education and language to the environment and public policy facing the circumpolar world.

“Memorial is proud to partner with the Nunatsiavut Government to host this year’s Inuit Studies Conference.” —Dr. Richard Marceau

Individual presentations will span a range of research from the cultural and political import of seals and sealing, to the development of housing that meets the cultural and climatic needs of the Inuit, to fascinating intersections of oral traditions and digital technologies.

Part of larger project

The conference is one of the outcomes of a five-year, $7.4-million research project — funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Memorial and the Nunatsiavut Government — focused on creating dialogue between academic research and traditional knowledge for the protection, preservation and revitalization of Labrador Inuit culture and language. Dr. Gordon is principal investigator of the project.

“There has been a quantum shift in recent years from research about Inuit to research by and with Inuit.” —Dr. Tom Gordon

“What I find most exciting about this year’s Inuit Studies Conference is the prominence on the program of knowledge shared by Inuit scholars and tradition-bearers,” Dr. Gordon noted in an interview with the Gazette.

“There has been a quantum shift in recent years from research about Inuit to research by and with Inuit. No less exciting is the degree to which Inuit culture will be shared with a larger audience, not only through the conference itself, but through the engaging and sometimes challenging media of film, visual arts and performance in the two festivals that are running concurrently with the conference: katingavik inuit arts festival and iNuit Blanche.”

Conversations on Inuit traditions

Dr. Marceau says the conference promises to be a remarkable four days of sharing knowledge about Inuit traditions.

“Through our Strategic Research Intensity Plan, Memorial is committed to strengthening all aspects of research at our university, including scholarship and creative activities, and other forms of community engagement,” he said. “Memorial is proud to partner with the Nunatsiavut Government to host this year’s Inuit Studies Conference, which will bring together Indigenous leaders, researchers and students from around the world to engage in important conversations related to Inuit traditions.”

Keep up-to-date about the conference by following it on Facebook and Twitter.

More information, including program and registration details, is available online.


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