Inuktitut-language Blocks a Hit in Nunavut

ICTMN Staff
1/3/11

A series of wooden blocks bearing Inuktitut symbols, first invented by an Inuit family for their kids, is now being produced by the hundreds, the Nunatsiaq News reports.

Franco and Mary Buscemi started out looking to augment the abundance of English- and French-language toys and other resources with something that’s “relevant to the Inuit and the north,” they told the News, since there was barely anything available in their Inuktitut language.

For the past few years their kids, who speak both English and Inuktitut, had been playing with a prototype of the colorful 16-block set. The one-and-a-half-inch square blocks bear three Inuktitut syllabics that correspond to Inuit icons for the ulu, caribou antlers, berries and other things.

They decided to increase production and, with funding from the Government of Nunavut, got 50 sets made. Then the government funded the manufacture of 500 sets, distributing hundreds in schools and day care centers across the Canadian territory.

Now the blocks are sold at the Malikkaat store and the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit museum in Iqaluit, where adults have also been spotted buying them.

The Buscemis don’t plan to make much money off the blocks.

“I just want to make sure children have access to Inuktitut around them,” Franco Buscemi told the News. He plans to design Inuktitu-language children’s books too.

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