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Tukisiviit?-Do you understand? Inuit Sexual Health Literacy Forum

For Immediate Release:

Ottawa, ON (February 6, 2012) From February 6-9, 2012, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada will be holding a national Inuit sexual health language terminology forum in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador called Tukisiviit?-Do you understand?. The highly anticipated Tukisiviit forum will address the issues of health disparities, cultural competency, health literacy and patient safety in relation to the use of language in the context of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C.This national forum will bring together Inuktitut language experts from all regions, sexual health content experts, community health and social service providers, AIDS service organizations; land claims organization representatives, educators, elders and youth. These experts will focus on addressing the lack of sexual health terminology and the unique differences of dialects in Inuit regions. Through this forum, Pauktuutit will explore terminology by indentifying past and currently used glossaries and find common terms for sexual health and HIV/AIDS.

Sexual health, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and infectious diseases terminology continues to be a concern when talking about sexual health related issues as there are not many terms in the Inuktitut language. While medical glossaries are available, most of the words are more explanatory and are descriptive rather than actual words.The Inuktitut language is strong and is widely used by Inuit in their homes and communities; having the terminology in all of the regions will be benificial since in some cases different regions have different terminology.

Since the early 1990s Pauktuutit has done extensive work in this area, however ongoing efforts are required to inform health practitioners and community members about the nature and range of available prevention and education materials. This is particularly important in the Arctic context, given the highly transient nature of health care providers in Inuit communties.

Pauktuutit has been the leading national organization addressing Inuit-specific HIV/AIDS issues in Canada. Pauktuutit works collaboratively with a wide range of other stakeholders including the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada on a number of issues and initiatives of mutual interest and concern. It recently participated in an international policy dialogue on HIV/AIDS where it raised awareness of the unique circumstances of Inuit in Canada and some of its innovative culturally-based health prevention and promotion projects.

According to Elisapee Sheautipik, Pauktuutit’s President, “Language is the basis of Inuit culture. It is who we are. When we take steps to enhance our language, especially in health materials, we are taking steps to regain pride in our culture.” Ms. Sheutiapik will be making opening remarks to the delegates as well as participating in the forum.

During the same week as the Tukisiviit forum, the Department of Culture Language Elders and Youth of the Government of Nunavut will be holding an Inuit Language Week. The Nunavut Literacy Council, with sponsorship from the Nunasi Corporation, has published a book in Inuktitut entitled Just One Goal! The book, written by acclaimed children’s author Robert Munsch, will be released during Inuit Language
week. Other events scheduled during that week include recognizing Inuinnaqtun language teachers, screening archived videos through IBC, a trade show on language-related funding topics and more. For more information on these activities go to:

Media Contact:
Geri Bailey, Manager, Health Policy and Programs
© 613-601-3977
[email protected]