Translating news into Inuktitut 'a challenge that's dear to me'

CBC North's Igalaaq is an Inuktitut news show, that anchor Madeleine Allakariallak translates live on the air.
Rosanna Deerchild (left) and Madeleine Allakariallak. Allakariallak translates English news into Inuktitut live on the air. (Kyle Muzyka )

When TV viewers tune in for the news in Nunavut, they can see it and hear it in Inuktitut. It's translated from English live on the air by anchor Madeleine Allakariallak.

"Igalaaq is the only Inuktitut supper hour TV program in the whole country. So it's a very important show. In the whole 24 hour day, my unilingual Inuktitut speakers have this one chance, for 30 minutes, to see someone speaking their language," she said.

"Inuktitut is so particular. I'm not just reading the news, I'm storytelling the news."

Allakariallak joined CBC North in 1997 as a reporter. After two years on the job, she took over as host of the Nunavut morning radio show, Qulliq, which she hosted for six years. She also did a stint on APTN as a news anchor but returned to Nunavut and worked as a policy adviser for Nunavut Tunngavik. She also served as executive assistant to former premier of Nunavut, Eva Aariak. 

Igalaaq is CBC North's Inuktitut language supper hour news program. (Kyle Muzyka/CBC )
Allakariallak has been the anchor of Igalaaq since April 2014. Inuktitut is her first language. In fact, she used to translate for her grandmother when she was just four-years-old.

"It is challenging but it's a challenge that's dear to me because I grew up with a unilingual Inuktitut speaking grandmother," she recalled. 

"When people came in to visit and she spoke no English, they spoke no Inuktitut, Madeleine comes and saves granny pants," she said, laughing. 

But she said there are some English words that are not translatable. In that case, Allakariallak uses the English word but has to explain in Inuktitut what is it and why they use that word.

She said preserving and using Inuktitut is important because it connects Inuit to their culture.

"It's connected to our environment. It's connected to who we are as human beings on this earth. It's connected to the stories of our ancestors. My grandmother's stories. The elders' stories because they're not documented, in written format. So if we lose these stories [then] what do we have," she said.

"We are these amazing human beings that have survived the harshest environments and went through awful relocations, disturbing residential school experiences, and look where we are today. We're still smiling at each other."