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New FLAS fellows in Inuktitut

December 23, 2020

This fall quarter, three UW graduate students were awarded Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships for the Inuit language: Ellen Ahlness, a doctoral candidate in political science; Elena Bell, a doctoral candidate in International Studies, and Elizabeth Wessells, a doctoral candidate in Anthropology.

Ellen’s research looks at Indigenous–state relations and Arctic environmental politics and political mobilization among Indigenous nations in the Arctic CouncilHer background in Scandinavian studies and international relations has led to her current connection with the Canadian Studies Center to develop a strong and comprehensive foundation for understanding circumpolar events, as well as North American and Indigenous interests in the Arctic.

Elena’s research focuses on documentary film as a cross–border self–representation, communication, and educational tool. She conducts this examination by juxtaposing the two Arctic sub–regions—Sakha Republic (Russia) and Nunavut (Canada)—In the context of the Indigenous cinematic boom that developed simultaneously and independently in these regions.

Elizabeth’s main interests are decolonizing methodologies in museums, collaborative research projects driven by communities, and Indigenous systems of knowledge guiding policy decisions. The FLAS fellowship through the Canadian Studies Center facilitates her work with Canadian archaeologists and resource policy makers, and critically supports her study of the Inuktitut language so she can more closely collaborate with Inuit communities in the North.

The instructor for the Inuktitut course is Alexina Kublu, who teaches out of Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut the Inuit territory in Canada. Alexina was born in Igloolik and is a fluent speaker of Inuktitut. She received her Bachelor of Education Degree from the Nunavut Teacher Education Program, with additional training out of Chesterfield Inlet and Fort Smith. She is involved with the teaching of Inuktitut as a first and second language and develops Inuktitut language training materials. Alexina has taught in schools in Igloolik, Arctic Bay, Cape Dorset and Arviat and served as an instructor in the Language and Culture Program at Nunavut Arctic College. She worked as an Apprenticeship and Government Staff Training officer with the Nunavut Dept of Education and as a Municipal Training officer with the Department of Municipal Affairs in Rankin Inlet. From 2009 to 2013 she was the Official Language Commissioner of Nunavut Territory.

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.