Advertisement

Nunatsiavut presents inaugural language, culture recognition awards

Maria Merkuratsuk has been announced as the winner of the first Cultural Preservation Award by the Nunatsiavut government.  (Nunatsiavut government - image credit)
Maria Merkuratsuk has been announced as the winner of the first Cultural Preservation Award by the Nunatsiavut government. (Nunatsiavut government - image credit)

The Nunatsiavut government has presented its inaugural Inuttitut and Cultural Preservation Recognition Awards, to highlight people preserving their traditional language and culture.

Maria Merkuratsuk has won the cultural preservation award, and Nicholas Flowers has won the Inuttitut Award.

"I'm feeling really proud and really boosted up," Merkuratsuk said.

Merkuratsuk, who grew up on the land around her home in Nain, continues to take people to her cabin, sharing her culture and passing on traditional knowledge.

"I just live it. And today I just so happy to share it, to share what I know," she said. "Without that, I am without who I am."

Merkuratsuk said she's grateful for her parents and grandparents, who taught her about being on the land. She said she doesn't know everything and can only share her family's perspective and traditions but is happy to do so. Being out on the land is being "home," Merkuratsuk said.

"My whole soul, my whole heart, my whole mind," Merkuratsuk said. "I'm home. I'm there or where I want to be."

Along with taking people to her family cabin, Merkuratsuk also teaches cooking and how make moccasins and sealskin boots and mitts.

"People always say that we are losing out on our culture and language and all that. And I just want to help out and make people realize that we are not losing our culture and language. I'm still teaching it. And Nicholas is still teaching it."

Nicholas Flowers began learning Inuttitut in high school and has a passion for both learning and teaching the traditional language.
Nicholas Flowers began learning Inuttitut in high school and has a passion for both learning and teaching the traditional language.

Nicholas Flowers began learning Inuttitut in high school and has a passion for both learning and teaching the traditional language. (Submitted by Nicholas Flowers)

Flowers began learning Inuttitut in high school. He recently completed the Aurniarvik pogram in Iqaluit to learn Inuktitut as a second language, and talks to local elders and speakers to speak the regional Inuttitut dialect.

"I was really surprised to be nominated. And I'm just very grateful from bottom of my heart," Flowers said.

Flowers teaches online adult classes with his sister, Vanessa, and volunteers with a number of cultural projects at the Amos Comenius Memorial School in Hopedale.

Flowers said knowing Inuttitut enriches and complements going out on the land.

"So many traditional activities that we do as Inuit are best explained through Inuttitut, and when you learn Inutittut, I feel that you can live a better life and enjoy life a lot more than you can if if you only had to speak English."

Anyone over the age of 15 can be nominated for the new yearly awards. The winners are given a prize of $1,000 and a plaque.

Download our free CBC News app to sign up for push alerts for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador. Click here to visit our landing page.