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Passing of a “brilliant teacher” of the Inuit language

Four people stand side by side holding up a flag of Nunavut, Canada.
Mick and Kublu with Russ Hugo (left) Language Learning Center, and FLAS Fellow Walter O’Toole (2014). Photo credit: Nadine Fabbi.

October 6, 2023

Sydney (Mick) Mallon, a renowned Canadian linguist and the Center’s Inuktut instructor, passed away on September 18th at the age of 90.

From 2005 to 2019, Mick Mallon taught Inuktut to Foreign Language and Area Studies fellows, as well as other University of Washington students. After 2019, Mick and his wife, Alexina Kublu, taught together.

In the words of one of the Center’s FLAS fellows, Elizabeth Wessells, “When I think of Mick, I think of storytelling. With every concept he taught, Mick would illustrate it with a pun, a song, or an anecdote from his own adventures. Though I haven’t been in his classroom in several years, these tricks he used to teach still stick in my mind. He and his wife Kublu brought such a wealth of knowledge and experience to the classroom; I will forever be grateful to have been one of their students through the Canadian Studies Center’s Inuktitut program.”

Since 2005, the Center has awarded a total of 195 FLAS fellowships, 87 of them in an Indigenous language spoken in Canada. Over 40 of those fellowships have been for the study of Inuktut. 

In 2008, Mick was awarded the Order of Canada for his ‘pivotal role in preserving and revitalizing the Inuktitut language.’  This is Canada’s civilian honor. Mick passed away peacefully on September 18, 2023 in Parksville, British Columbia with his family by his side. Mick was 90 years of age. 

For a story about Mick recently covered in Nunatsiaq News, click here.