As someone who is of Greenlandic heritage, but was raised in southern Canada, it is a rare occurrence for me to hear the language of my ancestors spoken aloud (except, of course, when my Greenlandic father teases me for not being able to understand what he says). So it was a treat for me while attending the panel on intergenerational perspectives on Indigenous languages to hear Hans-Henrik Suersaq Poulsen sing a beautiful rendition of a love song completely in the Greenlandic language. It made me feel a deep connection to my culture and heritage.
This connection to language was the main topic of the panel. Four panelists, of differing generations and Indigenous backgrounds all shared their thoughts on the importance of preserving Indigenous languages, so as to preserve a group’s identity and spirit for the future generations. Overall, the panel was fairly optimistic about the future of language revitalization, citing numerous programs and stories of Indigenous languages thriving; however, it also provided a stark warning of what’s at risk if we, as Indigenous peoples, lose the ability to express ourselves in the languages of our ancestors.
The Arctic Arts Summit’s Knowledge Creators Next program brings together northern Indigenous post-secondary students, young activists and emerging professionals to attend the Summit. Participants in the Knowledge Creators Next (KCN) program will be sharing their daily reflections—in the form of tweets, photographs, poems, sketches, videos or other short responses—on the Arctic Arts Summit’s digital platform and across social media.