Oral Transmission of Literacy - Martha MacDonald

Part of:
5:15 PM, Friday 4 Oct 2019 (30 minutes)
Literacy was introduced and indeed imposed by the Moravians when they arrived and set up schools in the eighteenth century. Literacy evolved and was dedicated to new uses by the Inuit, and became a form of both social and cultural capital. In the 20th century, experiences of literacy were varied as English became the language of instruction after Confederation, but the narratives of Inuit show that people continued to use Inuktitut literacy outside the classroom and that the value placed on the acquisition and deployment of that skill remained. The informal transmission of reading and writing by the Inuit which began at seasonal fishing camps and in communities outside the Moravian territories continued in families where no schooling was available, such as those living in Nutak and Voisey’s Bay. In addition, once Inuktitut instruction was no longer available in schools, literacy in that language was passed on by neighbours and in the church context. Accounts in recorded interviews provide insight into the value placed on this skill and on the creative ways in which people used written materials to support their learning and in some cases their retention of Inuktitut.