Nfld. & Labrador

Inuit Studies Conference allows Inuit to explore identity

An historic conference in St. John's will unite elders, researchers, artists and policy-makers in an expression of Inuit identity.

More than 200 discussions, demonstrations and performances during the conference

The Inuit Studies Conference is co-hosted by Memorial University and the Nunatsiavut government. (Memorial University)

A historic conference in St. John's will unite elders, researchers, artists and policy-makers in an expression of Inuit identity.

The 20th Biennial Inuit Studies Conference will run Oct. 7 to 10 at Memorial University and will be co-hosted by Nunatsiavut, marking the first time an Inuit government will co-host the event. 

The NunatuKavut Community Council is also participating, and President Todd Russell says the the conference will allow Inuit to tell their own story.   

We are going to be able to express to other Inuit — and to the world — who we are.- Todd Russell

"One of the beauties of this conference, and one of the beauties of our participation, is that we are going to be able to tell our own story, we are going to be able to express to other Inuit — and to the world — who we are," said Russell.

Todd Russell is President of the NunatuKavut Community Council. (NCC)

He said recognizing the Inuit identity is important.

"There are Indigenous people across the globe who seem to find themselves having to validate themselves to others," Russell said. 

"Our story is part of a colonial narrative where people have tried to eradicate Indigenous through various means, sometimes writing them out."

Inuit discussions and presentations

As part of the 2016 Inuit Studies Conference, NunatuKavut staff and researchers will be presenting on the politics of identity, re-storying Indigenous women's histories, Inuit traditional knowledge and Labrador marriages at the turn of the 19th century.

These presentations will be included among the more than 200 discussions, demonstrations and performances during the conference.  

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed, performance artist Tanya Tagaq and speakers from Scandinavia and Russia will give keynote presentations.

The Katingavik Inuit Arts Festival and iNuit Blanche — the first ever all-Inuit, all-night art crawl spread across downtown St. John's — will also run simultaneously with the conference.

With files from Labrador Morning