On Sunday, June 3, in the bustling Nunavut capital of Iqaluit, an event will take place that the Inuit people have been eagerly awaiting for thirty-three years. They will finally receive the entire Bible in their own language!
“Every time I visit the Arctic the people ask me, ‘When will we have the complete Bible?’ Now their question can finally be answered,” says Hart Wiens, Director of Scripture Translations, Canadian Bible Society (CBS).The Inuktitut language is the only indigenous language given recognition and status as an official language of a Canadian territory.
The New Testament has been in print for 20 years and at least five editions have been printed. But what about the rich spiritual legacy found in the stories, poetry, laws and prophecies of the Old Testament? “Our people need the whole Word of God to be inspired and strengthened and as a guide for their lives,” says The Right Reverend Benjamin T. Arreak, retired suffragan Bishop of Nunavik and coordinator of the translation team.“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.”
This Inuktitut Bible publication marks many firsts. For the first time in Canada, the entire translation was done by mother tongue (first language) speakers of the language rather than by missionaries. This is the first full Bible produced in Canada using the cutting edge computer tools distributed and supported by our CBS Translations office, which are transforming the way translations are being done around the world. This is the first full indigenous language Bible translation completed under the auspices of CBS. This is the first Bible translation project in Canada in which CBS has partnered from beginning to end with the Anglican Church as its only translation partner. And this is the first Bible translation project in Canada out of which two Bishops were raised up for the Church. Bishop Andrew Atagotaaluk, one of the translators from the very beginning, made history as the first Inuk to be appointed as the Bishop of a Diocese in Canada.
The Bible will be dedicated at St. Jude’s Anglican Cathedral in Iqaluit, Nunavut. The Bible will be presented in the morning service. In the evening the Bible will be dedicated in a community celebration along with a dedication prayer for the new cathedral, which is built to look like a giant igloo. Priests of the diocese, parish leaders, as well as dignitaries from the Anglican national church are expected to participate. The people will be able to purchase Bibles after the dedication. “Our people are willing to pay whatever the cost for the complete Bible,” says Bishop Benjamin.
Supporting the translation of the Bible into the languages and dialects of the world is one of the mandates of the Canadian Bible Society, whose sole purpose is to reach every man, woman and child with the life-giving Word of God, and to encourage its use. Since its inception, the Canadian Bible Society, working through the global fellowship of the United Bible Societies has placed thousands of Bibles, New Testaments and Portions of Scriptures into the hands of waiting people around the world in their chosen languages.