The Inuktitut Bible: Dedication, Consecration and Benediction in Iqaluit
Canada’s Eastern Arctic Inuit finally receive God’s Word in their heart language
Iqaluit, Nunavut – 4 June 2012: “Every time I visit the Arctic the people ask me, ‘When will we have the complete Bible?’ Now their question can finally be answered”, said Hart Wiens, Director of Scripture translations at CBS. On June 3, in Iqaluit, the capital of the Nunavut territory, milestones were celebrated as a new cathedral was dedicated, two new bishops were consecrated and God’s Word was celebrated. On this brisk, sunny day the Inuit people finally received what they had eagerly awaited thirty-four years for… The Inuktitut Bible – an entire translation in their own tongue! Inuktitut, the language of Inuit people, is the most widely spoken aboriginal dialect in Canada’s Arctic.
Begun in 1978, this historic undertaking marks the first Canadian translation of the whole Bible completed entirely by native speakers rather than missionaries. The Inuktitut Bible is also the first full translation produced in Canada using the cutting edge computer software tools distributed and supported by CBS. Time, care and personal attention by the native translators, along with the CBS software support team, was necessary since Inuktitut was an oral language for thousands of years. Significantly, most modern speakers of Inuktitut are Christian.
The launch of the new Bible was commemorated and blessed in various ways throughout the weekend. At a Gospel Jamboree on Saturday night, time was set aside to honour the translation team. Here Mr. Wiens was given a beautiful soapstone carving of an Inuk reading the Bible. On Sunday morning a local bishop offered a special blessing during the Cathedral dedication. And, throughout the weekend, a special edition of the Bible was given to the translators, their wives and various dignitaries. The Right Reverend Benjamin T. Arreak, retired Anglican Bishop of Nunavik and coordinator of the translation team, explained the significance of the new translation: “This is the first time our people will have the complete Bible in their language. This will open their hearts and minds to the Word of God”.