At the center of our culture is the family; which in turn is surrounded by an even larger network of social relationships. The family and larger social network forms the environment into which children are born and begin the long process of learning to become an adult. As Inuit we cherish both our young and our elders, but at each stage of life, which separates the young from the old, there are important roles to be played, knowledge and skills to be learned and expected contributions to be made for family and community.
At the center of our culture is the family; which in turn is surrounded by an even larger network of social relationships. The family and larger social network forms the environment into which children are born and begin the long process of learning to become an adult. As Inuit we cherish both our young and our elders, but at each stage of life, which separates the young from the old, there are important roles to be played, knowledge and skills to be learned and expected contributions to be made for family and community.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Children

Out on the land.

Inuit Tapirisat of Canada

© Inuit Tapirisat of Canada


A primary contribution that binds people together socially, and which has always played a part in our survival, is the sharing of food and the willingness to cooperate when the need arises. At times sharing and cooperation are based on very formal rules, while at other times, it is simply expected to be done. When animals are killed on the hunt, they are shared, when people are in need, they are looked after; it is the Inuit way and it represents a value that we continue to honour.
A primary contribution that binds people together socially, and which has always played a part in our survival, is the sharing of food and the willingness to cooperate when the need arises. At times sharing and cooperation are based on very formal rules, while at other times, it is simply expected to be done. When animals are killed on the hunt, they are shared, when people are in need, they are looked after; it is the Inuit way and it represents a value that we continue to honour.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

young girl

Polly Negeovanna.

Photo by Eric Loring

© Eric Loring


man

Ipellee Qillaq.

Photo by Eric Loring

© Eric Loring


Before the development of the larger, permanent communities, the values, traditions, skills and knowledge which define our culture were expressed in a setting that was very different from today. Our elders still speak at length about those times when we lived in small, seasonal communities.

Although the location of the community would change according to the seasons, our life was not nomadic, as we tended to use the same places, at the same time, year after year. In this way, we were able to successfully exploit the seasonal resources and to establish a family hunting territory. This organization of territory implied neither ownership nor exclusive use of hunting areas but was essential for identifying group territory and establishing localized social systems and patterns of land use. The principle of sharing was central, and there was cooperation between villages.
Before the development of the larger, permanent communities, the values, traditions, skills and knowledge which define our culture were expressed in a setting that was very different from today. Our elders still speak at length about those times when we lived in small, seasonal communities.

Although the location of the community would change according to the seasons, our life was not nomadic, as we tended to use the same places, at the same time, year after year. In this way, we were able to successfully exploit the seasonal resources and to establish a family hunting territory. This organization of territory implied neither ownership nor exclusive use of hunting areas but was essential for identifying group territory and establishing localized social systems and patterns of land use. The principle of sharing was central, and there was cooperation between villages.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Small communities were basic to Inuit life on the land until about 25 years ago. Today, some famillies have chosen to live a more isolated existance in what are called outpost camps, while many other Inuit prefer to visit their old living sites for shorter periods of time during different seasons of the year.

Photo by W. Kemp.

© W. Kemp


Today, Inuit Territory in Canada is divided into four political regions with 55 communities. Each region has now signed a final land claim agreement or, as in the case of Labrador, is in the process of negotiating a final agreement. Based on these agreements and on the self-governing bodies that are now operating within each region, each area is developing it’s own approach to economic and social development.

Nevertheless, fundamental values, traditions, language and resources that define our Inuit culture provide a basic continuity that binds the regions into the larger world of the Canadian Inuit.
Today, Inuit Territory in Canada is divided into four political regions with 55 communities. Each region has now signed a final land claim agreement or, as in the case of Labrador, is in the process of negotiating a final agreement. Based on these agreements and on the self-governing bodies that are now operating within each region, each area is developing it’s own approach to economic and social development.

Nevertheless, fundamental values, traditions, language and resources that define our Inuit culture provide a basic continuity that binds the regions into the larger world of the Canadian Inuit.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Map

Map of the Inuit communities and regions

Inuit Tapirisat of Canada

© Inuit Tapirisat of Canada


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe the relationship of family to Inuit culture
  • Describe how seasons affected Inuit communities historically
  • Describe modern Inuit community organization

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans