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Welcome to news from Canadian Studies Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellows of the Center. Our students have gone on to become experts in their fields and to contribute to a greater understanding of Canada in the United States. We hope you enjoy their stories.
From left, Walter O'Toole (UW English major), Caitlyn Evans (UW law student and FLAS Fellow), Alexina Kublu and Prof. Mick Mallon.
Inuktitut, the indigenous language of the Inuit peoples of Northern Canada, shares no roots with any other language in existence.
It is spoken by only 35,000 people – with nearly all of them living in small communities in Arctic Canada. With its complex glottal sounds and unique set of written symbols, Inuktitut is rare to hear and difficult to learn.
But thanks to the University of Washington’s FLAS (Foreign Language and Area Studies) fellowship program, UW law student Caitlyn Evans is getting that chance.
The program awards tuition and living stipends to undergraduate, graduate and professional students to pursue foreign language and international area studies.
Fellowships are awarded through the Jackson School of International Studies’ eight National Resource Centers, each of which organizes training and research focused on a different world region: East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, The Middle East, Canada, West Europe, Russia/East Europe/Central Asia and Global Studies.
These resource centers receive Title VI funding from the U.S. Department of Education to support students gaining competencies in 66 global languages and a variety of area topics.
“The objective is to have U.S. citizens and permanent residents in a wide variety of fields who can operate in foreign languages and with expertise in various world regions,” said fellowships coordinator Robyn Davis in an email.
Evans, an aspiring environmental lawyer interested in indigenous land rights in the Arctic territories, was keen on learning the Inuit language “to build a cultural connection with the Arctic” upon first starting law school.
Luckily for her, Inuktitut was one of the languages offered for a FLAS fellowship in 2012. Not so lucky was the fact that UW doesn’t offer any way to learn it on campus.
In fact, after calling nearly every U.S. and Canadian university with a distance-learning program, Evans thought there was no pathway for her to learn Inuktitut in all of North America.
That’s when Mick Mallon entered the picture.
The retired language professor is one of the best qualified Inuktitut teachers in North America – not to mention one of just “four living white guys” who might claim to be experts in the Inuit language today.
Canadian Studies Associate Director Nadine Fabbi first reached out to Mallon in 2004, on behalf of former JSIS student Tim Pasch who was interested in applying for FLAS in Inuktitut. Fabbi said Mallon has been an invaluable learning resource ever since.
“Given the fast-increasing outside interest in the Arctic, Inuktitut is becoming a strategic language for U.S. security,” Fabbi said. “We are extremely fortunate to have resources to teach the Canadian Inuit language here at the UW.”
Since Mallon lives in Victoria, Canada, the Canadian Studies Center had to get creative in setting up the curriculum for Pasch’s fellowship. Traditional classroom lessons were clearly not an option, nor was going through an official university distance-learning program.
So, they turned to Skype. In addition to their lessons on the UW campus, Mallon now conducts semi-private lessons over the Web for Evans and her only other classmate, Walter O’Toole. O’Toole, an undergraduate English major, hopped on board when the class was resurrected for Evans’ fellowship this quarter.
O'Toole grew up hearing stories about Inuit culture from his father, who used to work in the Arctic, and plans to take a trip north after graduating. He says he was interested in learning Inuktitut to “be exposed to something different.”
“It’s a beneficial cognitive exercise to learn a rare language,” he said.
Evans and O’Toole both say Inuktitut is tough to learn, despite the fact that it’s a very logical language in terms of semantics, phonetics and structure. (The Inuk word for education, for example, is at the beginning of the words for student, teacher, school and learning.)
“There’s a lot of word making, instead of sentence making,” O’Toole says. “Mick compares Inuktitut to Lego blocks, while English is like a string of beads on a necklace.”
“My favorite part of teaching any students who persevere with this difficult and fascinating language,” Mallon said, “is that moment when suddenly they start to glimpse the logic that holds the whole thing together. From then on, they're hooked.”
Mallon immigrated from his native Belfast to Ottawa, Canada in 1954 to take a job as a high school teacher “set for a nice, boring life.” But a chance encounter with the director of Canada’s Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AANDC) program – and the incredible stories he shared – inspired him to take a teaching position in arctic Quebec, in the area now known as Nunavik.
A lifelong language aficionado (who enjoyed “temporary” fluency in French, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Portuguese and Japanese throughout his life), Mallon decided to settle up north and slowly master the indigenous language of the Inuit people.
Over time, he grew fluent enough to switch from student to teacher and launch a prominent career in indigenous linguistics education. He said it wasn’t exceptional talent that allowed him such prominence in the field, but the fact that he was teaching (and speaking) Inuktitut at all.
“In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king,” he says.
Mallon also spearheaded the development of various indigenous language curricula in Arctic Canada, and published a textbook on Inuktitut. Later, he was asked to set up an Inuktitut Language School at Rankin Inlet, in what is now known as the territory of Nunavut.
“I taught Canadian government workers, Inuit children, college students,” he said. “I even taught a few American Baptist missionaries - they were the best students I ever had!”
At 80, Mallon says he still “jumps at every chance” to teach Inuktitut – doing his part to keep the language alive.
Helping teach Evans and O’Toole is Mallon’s wife, Alexina Kublu, former head of the Language Commission in the Inuit territory of Nunavut, a fellow Inuktitut linguist and former pupil of Mallon’s. As an Inuit native, she adds a unique cultural dimension to their lessons.
“Kublu brings in cultural stories a lot,” Evans said. “There are a lot of stories. She offers the Arctic perspective.”
Kublu and Mallon both say it doesn’t matter who learns the language, just as long as someone is learning it.
“We’re very much concerned with the language disappearing,” Mallon said. “The worst enemy of the indigenous languages of the world is the English language. It’s like a cancer, and television is like cigarettes.”
“We’re losing the battle,” Kublu added.
Mallon and Kublu say that in one area, most younger-generation Inuks don’t even speak their native language. They say this is partly due to the globalization of English, and partly because resources to learn it are limited - even in traditional Inuit communities.
But according to Kublu, not all hope is lost. She said the advent of social media is helping tremendously in connecting Inuks around the world, and giving the language a platform for global exposure.
“YouTube gives people everywhere access to Inuktitut singing, for example,” she said.
“A friend told me: ‘if we want to save the language for young people, we’ve got to make it cool,’” Mallon said. “And it is cool!”
MELANIE ENG is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.
The Canadian Studies Center is a recipient of a U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships program grant. The grant provides allocations of academic year and summer fellowships to assist meritorious graduate students undergoing training in modern foreign languages and Canadian Studies. The Canadian Studies Center is extremely proud in having awarded several Fellowships in least-commonly taught Canadian Aboriginal languages including Inuktitut, Dane-zaa, Musqueam Salish, and Anishinaabemowin.
Canadian Studies Center, October 2013 Report
Task Force Alum Interns at State Department in the Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs
by Jeung Hwa (Victoria) Choe, Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Fellow; intern, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs
Victoria Choe and Julia Gourley, Senior Arctic Official of the United States and U.S. representative to the Arctic Council, pose at a breakfast at the Canadian Embassy, Washington, DC to celebrate Canada Day.
Victoria Choe with colleagues from the Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs in the State Department
In winter of 2011, I participated in Task Force on Arctic Governance. During a week-long research trip to Ottawa, Canada, I learned about a career in the Foreign Service. That same year, I applied for the Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship to pursue a career in the Foreign Service and to acquire Master’s degrees in Public Administration and International Relations at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. My task force experience has greatly influenced where I am today! Currently, I am interning at the U.S. Department of State in the Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs. I am working with Julia Gourley, Senior Arctic Official of the United States, who was the evaluator for the 2011 Task Force on Arctic Governance. My main responsibilities in the office are to assist with strategic planning for the U.S. Arctic Council Chairmanship in 2015-2017. It has been very rewarding to see how scholarly work contributes to the policy-making process.
Task Force is the capstone course for the International Studies major. The first Task Force on Arctic Canada was offered in 2009. The Winter 2011 Canada Task Force was entitled, "Melting Boundaries: Rethinking Arctic Governance" co-instructed by Vincent Gallucci, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and Nadine Fabbi, Canadian Studies Center. Victoria served as Coordinator. In Winter Quarter 2013, the Arctic Canada Task Force, "Arctic Securities," will focus on Québec’s role in the Arctic.
Tim poses with students in the Arctic.
In June, Timothy Pasch, UW FLAS Fellow in Inuktitut (2005-08) and now Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of North Dakota, presented at the Arviat Research Support Center, Nunavut Arctic College, in Arviat, Nunavut.
From an article published by University of North Dakota
Professor Tim Pasch spent his summer in the Canadian arctic researching and recording voices of the Inuit
by Kate Menzies
Timothy Pasch, UND Communication program professor, did not spend his summer like most.
He packed his bags and took to the Arctic ice to help preserve the language and culture of the Inuit.
He brought with him his digital media tools and expertise in the areas of still image and video, audio, social media, web- and mobile app design to preserve and broadcast the voices of the Inuit.
With citizenship in two countries ― Canada and the United States ― Pasch understands the role communication plays within a culture.
"I came to realize that the ability to speak different languages is a great treasure of life, and that culture is inextricably linked to language," said Pasch, who speaks French and Japanese fluently.
While working on his Ph.D. at the University of Washington, Pasch had the opportunity from a FLAS grant to study the Inuit language of Inuktitut near the Arctic Circle of Canada ― the first person to receive this type of grant to study a First Nations language. "First Nations" is the Canadian equivalent term for Native Americans.
Pasch lived with an Inuit family in the Nunavik community of Inukjuak, a part of Arctic Quebec, to research the effects of social networking on the Inuktitut language.
Pasch discovered that communities across the Canadian Artic were experiencing dramatic changes: languages and cultural identities were vanishing. Pasch researched the history of the Canadian Arctic, only to find a recent past filled with social upheavals.
Pasch theorizes that teaching digital communication technologies in the Arctic may help prevent certain human rights concerns from reoccurring there.
"Having seen how quickly language can be lost, and how challenging it can be to teach language, I became focused on adapting technologies for endangered language learning; through recording and broadcasting cultural knowledge and awareness," said Pasch.
For Pasch, communication is an important facet of cultural preservation. The loss of a language can result in loss of knowledge and wisdom accumulated over generations.
In June, Pasch recorded two Inuit Elders with several high definition recording devices as they described their advice for young Inuit preparing for an extended hunt on the land. Around that time, two young Inuit passed away on a snowmobile trek because they had not adequately prepared for their journey. A young girl fell through cracks in the ice on the Hudson Bay while Pasch was in Arviat.
"These elders have great concern for future generations of Inuit," said Pasch. "However as Inuktitut has principally been an oral language until recently, it has not always been preserved in writing."
Pasch created a model for Arctic New Media Convergence in the Digital Humanities to train and encourage young Inuit to use the technologies of still image and video, audio, social media, web- and mobile app design to preserve and broadcast the voices of the Inuit Elders, while sharing their own.
"Seeing these students become so excited and animated while using technology to create new media forms in their own language was immensely rewarding on both scholarly and spiritual levels," said Pasch.
Pasch has shared his research in the Kivalliq News, CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp.) North and Twitter feeds across the Circumpolar Arctic.
"I am exceedingly grateful for these connections and the ability to broadcast my thought that the fact that the Northwest Passage is becoming navigable makes the Inuit voice more important and valuable than ever," said Pasch.
His work with our northern neighbors doesn't stop there.
Pasch was recently appointed to the Board of Directors for the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States (ACSUS), as representative for Communication and Arctic Affairs. He also co-authored a book with Kyle Conway, also a UND Communication professor, titled Beyond the Border; which focuses on the border between the U.S. and Canada and was published this summer by McGill-Queens University Press.
Now, Pasch is working on an Arctic initiative to take place at UND later this fall. This will be a joint venture between UND, the Consulate General of Canada in Minneapolis, the Nunavut Arctic College and other Arctic-focused partners, that will celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Canadian Arctic Expedition (CAE) of 1913 that was led by UND alum Vilhjalmur Stefansson.
Pasch will bring his Arctic experiences to the classroom by discussing his research findings. He hopes that he will be able to inspire students to learn about different cultures by studying a foreign language or having international involvements through study abroad or research opportunities.
"For me as faculty, there was a true sense of coming full circle in this visit, in that many of my theories and speculations regarding technologies for cultural preservation came to life this summer on the upper northwest coast of the Hudson Bay," said Pasch.
Poster for Summer Presentation: here
Timothy Pasch, first FLAS Fellow in Inuktitut in the nation (2005-08), is now an Assistant Professor, Communication, University of North Dakota, and was just appointed to the board of the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States.
The Canadian Studies Center, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, has profoundly influenced my scholarly and professional career in incredibly dynamic and positive ways.
The Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) grant that I received through the Center while a graduate student, along with a Canadian Embassy Graduate Student Fellowship, were instrumental in enabling me to work with one of the premier instructors of Inuktitut and conduct dissertation fieldwork in Arctic Québec. I will be returning to the Canadian Arctic this summer, this time to teach New Media production techniques to students from the Arctic College in Arviat, Nunavut.
Last week I received notice from the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States (ACSUS), that I have been elected to the Council as representative for Communication and Arctic Affairs for 2013-2015. This is a highly significant honor at this stage in my career and I am exceedingly optimistic regarding this term of service. I credit this appointment to the combination of the training, academic and governmental research connections that I made during my time at the U.W., along with the strong support of Nadine Fabbi and others from the Center and the Jackson School.
Thanks to the enormous inspiration that I gained from Canadian Studies and the U.W., I am pleased to report that I am co-director of the Canadian Studies Center at the University of North Dakota, as well as faculty of record for our introductory Canadian Studies course. We are excited with many of the new initiatives that we have developed to enhance cultural and research linkages in the Red River Corridor.
Finally, I would like to announce my co-edited book currently in press with McGill-Queens University Press to be released this month, entitled Beyond the Border: Tensions across the Forty-Ninth Parallel in the Great Plains and Prairies. For all of these wonderful occurrences, I would like to thank the Canadian Studies – it is no exaggeration to say that they simply made everything possible for me.
Thank you so much, merci mille fois, et nakurmiik!
Timothy Pasch, Assistant Professor, Communication, University of North Dakota, was just appointed to the board of the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States. Tim was the nation’s first FLAS Fellow in Inuktitut from 2005-2008. He studied with linguist, Mick Mallon, and then with the Avataq Cultural Centre, Nunavik.
Funding for FLAS Fellowships is provided by a Center allocation from International and Foreign Language Education, U.S. Department of Education. Visit our FLAS page: http://jsis.washington.edu/canada/flas/.
Beyond the Border: Tensions across the Forty-ninth Parallel in the Great Plains and the Prairies is edited by Kyle Conway and Timothy Pasch. It is an interdisciplinary look at a neglected region of the Canada-US border. The idea that the American Great Plains and the Canadian Prairies are just "fly-over" country is a mistake. In the post-9/11 era, politicians and policy-makers are paying more attention to the region, especially where border enforcement is concerned. Beyond the Border provides interdisciplinary perspectives on the region's increasing importance.
Drawing inspiration from Habermas's observation that certain modern phenomena - from ecological degradation and organized crime to increased capital mobility - challenge a state's ability to retain sovereignty over a fixed geographical region, contributors to this book question the ontological status of the Canada-US border. They look at how entertainment media represents the border for their viewers, how Canada and the US enforce the line that separates the two countries, and how the border appears from the viewpoint of Native communities where it was imposed through their traditional lands. Under this scrutiny, the border ceases to appear as self-evident, its status more fragile than otherwise imagined.
At a time when the importance of border security is increasingly stressed and the Great Plains and Prairies are becoming more economically and politically prominent, Beyond the Border offers necessary context for understanding decisions by politicians and policy-makers along the forty-ninth parallel.
Contributors include Phil Bellfy (Michigan State University), Christopher Cwynar (University of Wisconsin), Brandon Dimmel (Western University), Zalfa Feghali (University of Nottingham), Joshua Miner (University of Iowa), Paul Moore (Ryerson University), Michelle Morris (University of Waterloo), Paul Sando (Minnesota State University Moorhead), and Serra Tinic (University of Alberta).
Kyle Conway is assistant professor of communication at the University of North Dakota and the author of Everyone Says No: Public Service Broadcasting and the Failure of Translation.
Timothy Pasch is assistant professor of communication at the University of North Dakota. The title of Timothy's dissertation is, "Inuktitut Online in Nunavik: Mixed Methods Web-Based Strategies for the Preservation of Aboriginal and Minority Languages." Tim is in his fourth year of Inuktitut and has been awarded a FLAS fellowship for the Inuit language each year since 2005. He graduated with his PhD. in Communications in 2008.
Geiger found this photo while conducting research in Canada. The cover photo depicts four Japanese coal miners in Cumberland, B.C., circa 1915. (Cumberland Museum and Archives, C140.66. Hayashi/Kitamura/Matsubuchi Studio.)
Andrea Geiger's just-published book on Japanese-Canadian history was an outcome of her FLAS Fellowship in Japanese from the Center.
Andrea, Assistant Professor, History, Simon Fraser University, was able to conduct some of the research that led to Subverting Exclusion: Transpacific Encounters with Race, Caste, and Borders, 1885-1928 as part of her FLAS Fellowships (1999-2002). “The FLAS Fellowships I received through the Canadian Studies Program, played a big role in making it possible for me to fully develop the U.S.-Canada comparison that is a key element of the book.”
This year Andrea was awarded the Theodore Saloutos Memorial Award from the Immigration and Ethnic History Society for her book. “The Japanese immigrants who arrived in the North American West in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries included people with historical ties to Japan's outcaste communities. In the only English-language book on the subject, Andrea Geiger examines the history of these and other Japanese immigrants in the United States and Canada and their encounters with two separate cultures of exclusion, one based in caste and the other in race” (Yale University Press, retrieved from http://yalepress.yale.edu/book.asp?isbn=9780300169638). The prize committee described Subverting Exclusion as "a major contribution to the study of immigration and ethnic history." (Immigration and Ethnic History Newsletter, May 2012).
Funding for FLAS Fellowships is provided by a Center allocation from International and Foreign Language Education, U.S. Department of Education. Visit our FLAS page: http://jsis.washington.edu/canada/flas/
Cody’s French club, in Atlanta, marching and carrying Québec flags! (06/12)
Cody Case (FLAS Fellow, French 2011) discovered his love for French and francophone culture through Canada studies FLAS fellowships. The FLAS permitted him to conduct ethnomusicology research on popular music in Montréal, Québec. He is currently teaching French at a K-8 charter school – Dekalb Academy of Technology and Environment – in Atlanta, Georgia where he uses Québécois music and media to teach children French while introducing them to Québec culture.
Cody was a FLAS Fellow in French for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 academic years and for Summer 2007 and 2011. While a graduate student at the University of Washington, he developed a collection for the U.W. Libraries on hip-hop music in Québec – Québec Popular Music – and its connection to identity.
Funding for FLAS Fellowships is provided by a Center allocation from International and Foreign Language Education, U.S. Department of Education.
Michael Hank is one of eight FLAS Fellows in Canadian Studies in 2012-13 all conducting research on Canada-focused topics.
by Michael Hank, Evans School of Public Affairs (FLAS Fellow, Summer 2012)
The University of Laval is considered one of the premier French immersion language schools in Canada. I can understand and completely agree with that statement from my own experience after just three weeks at the intensive Francais Langue Etrangere (FLE).
Time passes quickly here at University of Laval's intensive french program as each morning utilizes four hours of french grammar, vocabulary and language phonetics's each complete with its own specialized and experienced french professor. The afternoons are dedicated to at least two obligatory programs such as film discussions and french conversations. In my case I also have a private french tutor which provides me with an additional five hours per week of french conversation.
The school also offers social activities in the afternoons or evenings like dinners in Old Quebec, rafting and hiking at the Jacques Cartier National Parc, evening canoe trips and much more. These are to provide each student the maximum time and opportunity to have fun as well as learn and understand the culture and regional history of Quebec.
In all, it requires a complete sensory overload in order to acquire a foreign language like French. My FLAS scholarship allowed me to search and choose a program such as this one, and for myself, I am truly grateful to have been selected to attend the University of Laval and become immersed into such a dynamic french language program.
Funding for FLAS Fellowships is provided by a Center allocation from International and Foreign Language Education, U.S. Department of Education.
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