Norway to host Arctic Indigenous Language Symposium

languageThe leaders of the Arctic’s aboriginal groups will meet in Tromso, Norway this autumn to discuss the preservation of their respective languages. Most Arctic indigenous languages are quickly disappearing, and this symposium will explore ways to encourage their revitalisation.

It’s a typical syndrome of globalisation when smaller ethnic groups adopt more popular languages with each passing generation. The indigenous groups that have called the Arctic region home for millennia are perfect examples of this dilemma, but have resolved to gather in Norway to address the problem.

More than 40 delegates, speaking nearly as many different circumpolar languages, plan to meet in Tromso, Norway on 20-21 October for the Arctic Indigenous Languages Symposium. Organised by the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada and the Saami Council of northern Scandinavia, this two-day conference will hopefully create ideas to encourage the younger members of their shrinking ethnic groups to learn and maintain their traditional languages.

Duane Smith, president of Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada, told CBC News that “For the most part, native tongues are not being used enough with the younger generations in the circumpolar Arctic and they’re not being well-promoted by their respective regions.”

Smith is part of the Inuvialuit people from the western Arctic, and admits that most of his own generation have already lost the knowledge of their mother tongue. “It’s to get the circumpolar indigenous groups together to discuss the status of their languages, to try and come up with ideas and revitalise it,” he added. More than a dozen delegates representing the governments of eight Arctic nations have also been invited, along with several guest speakers.

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