Nothing cute about it: Misnamed plush polar bear irks Inuit

A stuffed polar bear called 'Nanook Nanuq' is translated by the toy company that makes it as 'cute polar bear.' That's not accurate, say Inuit, who believe the company should have consulted with Inuit before releasing the toy.

'They're taking our language and suiting it to their own interpretation. It bugs me,' says Inuvik's Joey Amos

This plush polar bear is irritating Inuit who say the toy's translation is inaccurate and inappropriate, and Inuktitut-speakers should have been consulted. (Ty Inc.)

When using an Inuit word to sell a product, at least translate it well.

Or just don't use it all.

That's how Joey Amos of Inuvik, N.W.T. feels about the plush bear Ty Inc. calls Nanook Nanuq.

On the tag, the stuffed animal's name is translated as "cute polar bear," when in fact, there's nothing cute about it. The two words are just different ways of writing "polar bear." 

"It's not right, so I've tried making contact with the folks with Ty through their Facebook," says Amos.

Amos said the Illinois-based company responded that they did not mean to disrespect any Indigenous group, and they would get back to him.  That was on June 21, Aboriginal Day.

Toy company Ty Inc. claims Nanook Nanuq means 'cute polar bear' in 'Inuit.' That's just not the case, says Joey Amos of Inuvik. (Ty Inc.)

More than two months later, Amos is still waiting for an answer. He warned them he would speak his mind on social media and finally did so on Sept. 5.

"They're taking our language and suiting it to their own interpretation. It bugs me," said Amos. "They should be actually talking with the Inuit that have traditional knowledge and know how to translate."

The Nanook Nanuq polar bear was introduced in May, to coincide with Canada's 150th anniversary. It's presented as a "proud Canadian" and "the cutest and most lovable polar bear cub around."

Ty Inc. also sells other polar bears called Igloo, Aurora, Alpine and Iceberg, as well as a husky called Yukon.

And another husky called … Nanook.

No one from Ty Inc. was available for comment.