Miali Coley-Sudlovenick teaches her native language Inuktitut through an online course she launched in 2021 as part of her business Allurvik.
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic and subarctic regions of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska in the United States. Like many other Indigenous cultures, European colonization left the Inuit struggling to preserve their ways of life, traditions, and languages in an environment of systemic oppression. That is why Miali Coley-Sudlovenick, an Inuit woman herself, is seeking to preserve her language through an online course. She teaches Inuktitut, one of the dialects spoken by the Inuit, to her people as well as anyone else who wants to learn. She believes it is one way to preserve her culture, CNN reports.
"Asking why this is important is just like asking why water is important," she said in an interview with the news outlet. "We need it, there's an innate need inside us searching for a part of ourselves we can identify with. I want to give people their language, and allow them to grasp something they've been searching for. This is the language we identify with as a people, and through colonization and its efforts to make us feel less than who we are, our parents and ancestors lost the ability to speak their own language."
Coley-Sudlovenick learned Inuktitut from her mother who spent her childhood in a Federal Day School. There, her mother was abused and forbidden from speaking her native language. She stated of her mother's experiences, "She was belittled, mocked and scolded for speaking Inuktitut. If the system had their way, she would have lost it completely." At present, there are an estimated 180,000 Inuit in the world. An even smaller group of Inuit, about 39,700 people, can still speak Inuktitut. Therefore, and as a result of her mother's experiences, Coley-Sudlovenick and her family vowed to preserve their culture and language and pass them on to future generations.
She teaches Inuktitut through her business Allurvik, which aims to preserve Inuit culture through education, art, and more. She successfully launched her online language course in 2021. "It's an incredibly rich language that allows us to truly understand our land, who we are, how we treat and connect with our community," Coley-Sudlovenick shared. "Many people want to learn Inuktitut but don't have the access or the supports in place. All I want to do is to make Inuktitut a little more accessible, especially to Inuit who want to learn and anyone else who's interested. I hope my work also inspires others to make Indigenous languages more widely available."
The business owner is immensely happy she gets to teach Inuktitut, helping Indigenous folks reconnect with their native culture. She affirmed, "It makes us feel insecure about who we are as people, as if we're supposed to try to be white or less of ourselves in order to be accepted into mainstream society. So much of our culture is gone, so much of who we identify with has been erased. All we're trying to do is bring those parts of us back to life. What is left for my generation to identify with? We've had to understand who we are through the white lens, with much of the meaning lost in translation. I do this because it brings me joy hearing our language spoken and seeing so much beauty in being able to connect with others in such an intimate way. But it goes deeper than that, too. My generation is responsible for picking up the pieces to reclaim our identities, our cultures, and our languages."