Inuksiutiit and the Emergence of Inuit Studies in Canada


  • Louis-Jacques Dorais Université Laval



Inuit, Inuit Studies, Indigenous Studies, Inuksiutiit, Inuit Conferences


This article first published advance online January 31, 2024

At the start of the 1970s, many young anthropologists conducting fieldwork in Inuit communities adopted a new paradigm. Instead of describing communities from the outside, they wanted to mix with local people, as far as the Inuit agreed, living with them, learning their language, and, most importantly, trying to understand their world view in order to convey and explain it to non-Inuit. As a result, the old academic field of “Eskimology” was transformed into Inuit studies. Students from Université de Montréal and Université Laval, in Québec City, who fully shared the objectives of emerging Inuit studies, had been conducting research in the North under the tutorship of a young French anthropologist, Bernard Saladin d’Anglure. From 1970 they became a research team, based at Université Laval, called Inuksiutiit (“Things or people having to do with the Inuit”). In 1974, they founded a non-profit organization, Association Inuksiutiit Katimajiit (AIK), with the objectives to promote, develop, and disseminate knowledge on Inuit culture, language, and society while collaborating with Inuit communities. Several projects initiated by Inuksiutiit Katimajiit have played a major part in positioning Canada as the world leader in Inuit studies. Two accomplishments stand out in particular: the Études Inuit Studies journal and the Inuit Studies conferences. The initiatives of AIK have endowed the elicitation, dissemination, and promotion of knowledge originating from the Inuit—whether traditional or contemporary—with a global dimension. In this way, Inuksiutiit may have played an essential part in supporting the Indigenous citizens of the North American Arctic in the assertion of their identity and social rights.

Author Biography

Louis-Jacques Dorais, Université Laval

Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology