The Moravian Beginnings of Canadian Inuit Literature

The traditional Inuit way of life had a strong and well developed oral tradition. The myths, tales and songs that Inuit elders told or sang in Inuktitut, Inuttitut or Inuttut at family and community gatherings ensured that traditional beliefs, symbols and values were transmitted from one generation to the next. This extensive oral literature did not have any written equivalent until the 19th century. The Moravians are a Protestant community claiming apostolic origins who developed in Moravia, now part of the Czech Republic, in the later 17th century. Under Count Zinzendorf, they established a thriving community in Herrnhut, Saxony which became a center of worldwide Christian outreach for the church. Moravians appeared in England in the early 18th century and had great influence on John Wesley and the Methodist movement. Moravians arrived in Labrador from Greenland in 1721 and by 1771 had begun to establish permanent settlement along the coast. This exhibition traces the beginnings of literacy and literature for the Inuit living in Labrador and, to a lesser extent, in the Canadian eastern Arctic. The Moravian missionaries transcribed biblical texts into a written form of Inuktitut and were the first in Canada to write and publish Inuktitut using Latin characters. In the early 19th century, an Anglican missionary in Northern Quebec (now Nunavik) transcribed parts of these same Moravian biblical translations into syllabic orthography.

Metadata Access
Creator Stenbaek, Marianne; Campbell, Jennifer; Rankin, Sharon; Terry, Lindsay
Publisher Canadian Cryospheric Information Network
Contributor Polar Data Catalogue
Publication Year 2015
Rights Research programs, CCIN, or ArcticNet take no liability for the use or transmission of this data
OpenAccess true
Contact sharon.rankin(at); pdc(at)
Language English
Format Computer file
Discipline Environmental Research
Spatial Coverage (-74.000W, 48.000S, -66.000E, 52.000N)
Temporal Coverage Begin 1800-01-01T00:00:00Z
Temporal Coverage End 2008-01-31T00:00:00Z