During these early years, Elders’ conferences were organized annually, but since 1988 they have been held every other year. The biennial event provides an opportunity for Inuit Elders to express their concerns, hopes and fears in relation to the preservation of Inuit culture, language and heritage.
In Inuit culture, Elders are the custodians of time-honoured wisdom and knowledge. Since the arrival of Qallunaat (non-Inuit) in the North, beginning in the second half of the 19th century, the role of Elders in both community and family structures has declined considerably. Notwithstanding, Inuit Elders remain pivotal to the transmission of traditional knowledge to future generations.
The programs and activities of Avataq Cultural Institute have all been developed further to decisions taken at Nunavik Inuit Elders’ Conferences.
Pursuant to its mandate received during Nunavik Inuit Elders’ Conferences, the objectives of the Avataq Cultural Institute are to:
These workshops are primarily intended to develop new terminology and revive old words through discussions among resource people (elders from the three coasts) and a group of translators and interpreters. The most recent terminology workshop was held in Kangirsualujjuaq in April 2006.
Activities include the construction of qarmaqs (earthen huts), sealskin tents, traditional umiaqs (sealskin boats) and kayaks; language workshops; and making bannock, kamik, puurtaq and avataq.