Winter Olympics Gets Indigenous Language Coverage

By Ben Hamill - February 01 2022

Winter Olympics Gets Indigenous Language CoverageThe Beijing Winter Olympics is kicking off on February 4th and will be running until February the 20th. Fans are already anticipating the action, happy to have a big sporting event amidst the ongoing world health crisis. Though, for David Ningeongan and Pujjuut Kusugak the event is nothing short of a dream come true. CBC announced that it will provide indigenous language coverage for the event, including Inuktitut and Eastern Cree. This means that hockey games will now have play by play coverage in the languages, which is a first for the network.

Kusugak declared that the opportunity is something truly special in his life. He explained that he is an avid player himself, and spends much of his time coaching. He continued by confessing that when the opportunity arose to be a commentator for the Winter Olympics, he jumped at it with both feet.

Coverage In More Languages Than Ever

So many locals can look forward to enjoying hockey in their language for the first time. Though, it isn’t the entire event that will have coverage. At the moment it is only the opening and closing ceremonies, and the hockey games. Either way, it is a big step for the Winter Olympics, and hopefully will become standard for future events.

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Kusugak and Ningeongan both come from Rankin Inlet, an area where hockey is the ruling sport above all others. Kusugak explained that the further North you go, the more limited the options become as far as sports are concerned. In the town of Nunavut, Rankin Inlet, he declared that everyone is basically hockey crazy.

Prepared For The Task

Though, the choice of announcers wasn’t made lightly. Ningeongan has been a local radio announcer for 12 years, proving that he is certainly up for the high-pressure task. He is also well known for being the first Inuk to do play by play commentary at the Fred Sasakamoose National Aboriginal Hockey Championship, which took place in Saskatoon. Kusugak is equally as qualified. Not only is he a former mayor of Rankin Inlet but is known for playing in both AAA and Junior A leagues in Ontario.

Dorothy Stewart, host of Cree-language show Winschgaoug, provided coverage for the 2020 Summer Olympics. She shared her opinion on the development, saying that hearing sporting coverage in native languages makes the experience particularly special. She said that speaking Cree is important for several reasons, not in the least because it is letting a piece of history be heard.