One tiny book contains a big piece of Inuit history – Nunatsiaq News

by ahnationtalk on December 11, 201951 Views

11 December 2019

Published around 1856, the slender volume contains the first printed use of syllabics to represent Inuktitut

Tucked away in the storage vaults of Library and Archives Canada’s Preservation Centre is a book that, despite being just eight pages long, is an important milestone in Inuit history.

It’s not the contents that are so significant—the book, published around 1856, is a selection of gospels written in the Inuktitut dialect of Little Whale River, near modern-day Kuujjuarapik, Nunavik—but instead how the words inside are represented. Within its faded pages is the first printed use of syllabics to represent Inuktitut.

The book travelled a long way for its intended audience: it was originally published in Moose Factory, Ontario, by John Horden, a missionary for England’s Church Missionary Society. Horden printed copies of the book for fellow missionary Edwin Arthur Watkins, based in Nunavik.

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