Press Conference to Announce the Inuit Studies Conference

September 8, 2016

ST. JOHN’S, NL - The 2016 Inuit Studies Conference was announced this morning at the LSPU Hall. The biennial international conference will be coming to St. John’s October 7-10. The conference will bring with it hundreds of knowledge-bearers, researchers, Elders, artists, scholars, storytellers, and students from across the circumpolar world and beyond.

The Inuit Studies Conference is co-hosted by Memorial University and the Nunatsiavut Government. This is the first time in the conference’s 40-year history that it is being co-hosted by an Inuit government. The theme of this year’s conference is Inuit Traditions, and an emphasis like never before has been placed on Inuit inclusion and Inuit ways of knowing.

“Incorporating traditional knowledge alongside scientific research is instrumental in today’s society,” says Sean Lyall, Nunatsiavut Government Minister of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism. “This year’s conference will provide a forum for Inuit, academics, policy makers and artists to meet and discuss important issues such as sustainable housing within Inuit Nunangat, climate and the changing environment, Inuktitut language, and tourism, just to name a few.”

Complementing the panel discussions and workshops, the conference will feature two festivals open to conference delegates and the St. John’s public. Running simultaneously with the conference, the katingavik inuit arts festival is a three-day celebration of Inuit creativity in film, music and visual arts. A highlight of the weekend will be iNuit Blanche (, St. John’s first ever all-Inuit, all-night art crawl spread across downtown on the evening of October 8th. More than 25 performances, demonstrations, and events will animate the city with Inuit flair.

Framing the Inuit Studies Conference and the festivals are two major events: the opening of the SakKijâjuk: Inuit Fine Art & Crafts from Nunatsiavut at The Rooms Provincial Gallery on October 7th, and a concert by the sensational Tanya Tagaq, presented by the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre on Monday, October 10th.

Memorial University and the Labrador Inuit have a long-established relationship of collaborative research. Co-hosting the Inuit Studies Conference was a natural fit for the two organizations.

“Through our Strategic Research Intensity Plan, Memorial is committed to strengthening all aspects of research at our university, including scholarship and creative activities, and other forms of community engagement,” says Dr. Richard Marceau, vice-president (research), Memorial University of Newfoundland. “Memorial is proud to partner with the Nunatsiavut Government to host this year’s Inuit Studies Conference, which will bring together Indigenous leaders, researchers and students from around the world to engage in important conversations related to Inuit traditions.”

The conference seeks to build a dialogue between Inuit ways of understanding the world and academic analytical approaches. The keynote speakers will set the tone for conversations between traditional knowledge and scholarly research. They include Natan Obed (Nunatsiavut), President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami; Natalia Radunovich (Chukotka), linguist and lexicographer; Joar Nango (Samiland), artist and architect; Tanya Tagaq (Nunavut), performance artist; and Maatalii Okalik (Nunavut), President of National Inuit Youth Council.

“What I find most impressive about the 2016 Inuit Studies Conference is the prominence on the program of knowledge shared by Inuit scholars and tradition-bearers,” says conference organizer, Tom Gordon. “There has been a quantum shift in recent years from research about Inuit to research by and with Inuit. No less exciting is the degree to which Inuit culture will be shared with a larger audience, not only through the conference itself, but through the engaging and sometimes challenging media of film, visual arts and performance in the concurrent katingavik inuit arts festival and iNuit Blanche.”