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Canadian Bible Society Announces Completion of 23-Year Translation Project -- First Draft of Inuktitut Language Bible

TORONTO, Ontario, April 17, 2002 — The Canadian Bible Society announced today that translation of the Inuktitut language Bible is now completed in first draft. The culmination of a 23-year-long joint effort by the Canadian Bible Society and the Diocese of the Arctic of the Anglican Church of Canada, the first draft translation was completed in December 2001, at the translation offices of the Canadian Bible Society, in Kitchener, Ontario.

Inuktitut (In-NOOK-ti-toot) is one of the three official languages of Canada's newest territory, Nunavut, and the aboriginal mother tongue of approximately 28,000 Canadians, (primarily, Inuit of the Canadian Eastern Arctic and Northern Quebec). This new translation will give these people the opportunity to read from the complete Bible in their own dialect for the first time.

"The Inuit people are eagerly awaiting the publication of the entire Bible in their language," said Hart Wiens, Director of Scripture Translation for the Canadian Bible Society.

This project began in 1978, when Dr. Eugene Nida traveled to Baffin Island to recruit translators on behalf of the Bible Society. Four young Anglican ministers from the area took up the challenge. Rev. Benjamin Arreak, Rev. Jonas Allooloo, Rev. Andrew Atagotaaluk and Rev. James Nashak, began work on the New Testament. Later, Rev. Joshua Arreak joined the team.

For almost a quarter of a century, the translators traveled twice yearly to various locations in the Arctic and occasionally to Kitchener, Ontario, where, unhampered by the demands of parish life, they would work intensively for four to six weeks at a time on their task.
"From the beginning of the project, we were all overwhelmed by the responsibility of translating God's word into the Inuktitut language. We were afraid and yet compelled to move forward because the people needed the Bible in their language," said Rev. Benjamin Arreak, Translation Team Coordinator.

The translators faced many practical challenges. "Many living languages have no words to describe daily life in ancient Palestine. For example, the Inuit people recognize six or seven 'seasons' that do not really correspond either to English terms (spring, summer, fall, winter) or to biblical seasons (rainy, dry)", said Hart Wiens.

Inuktitut has a long history as an oral language, but the Inuit had no written form of their language until the late 1800s, when Edmund Peck brought the syllabic system to the Arctic. It is a phonetic form of writing originally developed by Rev. James Evans for the Cree Indians, and adapted for the Inuit so they would have a way to record their history, previously preserved only through oral tradition.

"Translating the Bible into Inuktitut has given our language importance and has preserved it", said translator, Rev. Jonas Allooloo.

With the completion of the draft, the project now enters a new phase - community checking, consultant approval, final proof reading, printing and preparation of Inuktitut language study guides, to be completed by 2005.


The Canadian Bible Society, (headquartered in Toronto, Ontario), translates, publishes and distributes the Bible throughout Canada, and has Bibles, New Testaments and other Scriptures available in 111 foreign languages as well as 23 Canadian aboriginal languages. The first Canadian native translation to be published by the Bible Society dates back to 1804, when the Gospel of John was translated into Mohawk. Formally founded in 1904 and chartered in 1906, the Canadian Bible Society is a member of the United Bible Societies, a fellowship of 137 national Bible societies around the world. The societies work in partnership with churches and other Bible agencies to facilitate and support translation work around the globe. The Bible is now available - in whole or in part - in more than 2,285 different languages. Four thousand languages have been identified into which no book of the Bible has been translated, and there is a recognized need for translation into at least 2,000 of these remaining languages.


Hart Wiens, Director of Scripture Translation
The Canadian Bible Society
(Day) 519-741-8285, (Night) 519-883-7436
/ www.biblesociety.ca

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