The first collection of oral
history books published by Nunavut
is called Interviewing Inuit Elders. As
their titles indicate, each of these five books explores an important dimension
of Inuit Traditional Knowledge: An
Introduction to Traditional Knowledge, Child
Rearing Practices, Cosmology and
Shamanism, Perspectives on
Traditional Health, and Perspectives
on Traditional Law.
Knowledgeable elders from different regions of Nunavut were invited to Iqaluit where interviews with them were conducted in Inuktitut by students of the Language and Culture Program, supervised by Susan Sammons. Facilitators with relevant academic backgrounds, such as Frédéric Laugrand (Laval University), Bernard Saladin d'Anglure (Laval University), Jaarich Oosten (University of Leiden, Holland), and Michèle Therrien (National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilisations, France), guided the students in preparing questions and conducting research on the content of the interviews.
By asking relevant questions, students and facilitators engaged in reconstructing Inuit concepts and practices from a time when their way of life had been less impacted by foreign influence. The elders being interviewed are some of the last witnesses of the nomadic lifestyle, when Inuit families lived in isolated encampments and travelled great distances with their sled dogs, by umiaq, or on foot.