(May 28, 2012 – Rankin Inlet, Nunavut) President Cathy Towtongie , the Executive and staff of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. today sent condolences to the Kelly family on news of the passing of Jonah, May26th, 2012at Ottawa General Hospital.
“Our thoughts are with the Kelly family at this very difficult time” said Towtongie. “Jonah committed his time and energy to ensuring northern issues and our languages received equal coverage in news and programming. Inuktitut broadcasting is heard daily in homes in Nunavut because of the work of his generation.
Jonah was a legendary CBC broadcaster, whose taima, tavva takkua could be heard on radios across the North for more than 30 years. His working life was dedicated to ensuring that Inuktitut made the transition to a living on air language, and that events important to the Inuit community were part of broadcast media. He delivered community, national and international news in a colloquial form that was understood across most Inuktitut dialects, and provided a unifying force for Inuit. Southern broadcasters were told “the BBC has the ‘Queen’s English’, and Inuktitut has the ‘Kelly Dialect’.”
“Jonah was an orator in our language” said President Towtongie, “He could explain news and international events in ways that made sense to us, and could bring our community concerns and our Inuit culture to a broader Canadian audience. He played a critical role in connecting Nunavut communities, and in promoting participation, understanding and knowledge for us.