Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) Principles

Did you know June is National Indigenous Month, and that today (June 21st) is National Indigenous People’s day – where we celebrate the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. To acknowledge this day of national celebration we have asked our friend and colleague, Crystal Martin from Okpik Consulting to write a post about Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) Principles.

What traditional beliefs or values did Inuit have prior to the existence of Christianity?

This question is most often asked when I provide Inuit Cultural Awareness Training Sessions. The best way to answer this is with a brief summary on Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) Principles, which are traditional values and beliefs that were passed on from generation to generation through oral storytelling and how you could find ways to include this in your daily life; home, school, work, and your overall view on life.

1. Inuuqatigiitsiarniq – Respecting others, relationships and caring for people. In order to survive the harsh climate in the north, Inuit had to get along as they relied heavily on each other. Today, this can be interpreted in many different ways; such as being respectful and understanding to those around you and yourself, or ensuring you respect the decision that your manager made on a project that perhaps you do not agree with.

2. Tunnganarniq – Fostering good spirit by being open, welcoming and inclusive. Perhaps your company conducts work within Inuit communities, or you Inuit have clients that access your services, Tunnganarniq can be used to review your policies or programs  you offer to the Inuit community that will be inclusive of traditional beliefs, practices and culture.

3. Pijitsirniq – Serving and providing for family, or community, or both. For businesses that are working within remote northern communities, it’s important to instill the idea of Pijitsirniq in all the work you do. This can be community involvement, or sponsoring an event within the community you’re working in. There is often lack of employment and/or training opportunities in the arctic. Perhaps if you’re located in arctic communities you could look for ways to improve local employment and give yourselves a goal of X amount of Inuit employees, but never stop when you reach that goal.

4. Aajiiqatigiinniq – Decision-making through discussion and consensus. Everyday, we are bound to make decisions that are big and small, but often times, those decisions can have meaningful or negative impacts. When weighing your options, it’s important to have discussions amongst those affected to ensure that all have provided their input and it becomes a team decision.

5. Pilimmaksarnik – Development of skills through practice, effort and action. There is a saying a about a conversation between a CFO and the CEO that often resonates with me, “What happens if we train them and they leave?” The CEO responds, “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”. It’s not just about individual skills or experience, it’s also about how a company can retain committed employees. By building capacity within your employees, you are also building capacity within your business!

6. Piliriatigiinniq or Ikajuqtigiinniq – Working together for a common purpose. This can be related to your everyday  life. Parents that are  separated could follow this just as easily as children on a sports team. Ikajuqtigiinniq, because we all want to see better in this world.

7. Qanuqtuurniq – Being innovative and resourceful. Any entrepreneur can look at this and immediately be able to relate. This could be about creating new ideas with another company and using each other as resources to complete a large project, to networking with your mentee and introducing them to others within a similar industry.

8. Avatittinnik Kamatsiarniq – Respect and care for the land, animals, and the environment.  How can we preserve the ever-changing world we live in? Avatittinnik Kamatsiarniq can be used within your neighbourhood, perhaps it’s getting all the neighbours together to do a clean up. We all have a responsibility to keep our earth clean and pollution free.


To learn more about Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) Principles, please visit Okpik Consulting’s website.

OTUS Group has a strong interest in Canada’s North, we try to practice the Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) Principles when possible.  Take a look at our Northern work here.

Zoe deBest

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