Dream narration among Eastern Arctic Canadian Inuit

Publié in B. Collignon and M. Therrien (dir.), Proceedings of the 15th Inuit Studies Conference (Paris, 2006), Paris, INALCO/CNRS




Résumé :

Dealing with dream among Inuit means dealing with orality since in this society a particular dream finds its full signification only through its narration and sharing with others. However, and contrary to what occurred in the past – more or less until the conversion to Christianity –, dream sharing has for several decades declined for a number of reasons and has therefore largely lost its strong social aspect. While individual contemporary Inuit discourse on this matter remains largely consistent with earlier dream perceptions, a lot of Inuit do not share their dreams anymore, or only occasionally. Interestingly though, many of them, from all generations, state that they regret this situation. For instance some elders think that the serious social problems that affect young people, suicide on the first place, could originate from the fact that youngsters do not tell their dreams anymore. The latter explain that were raised in families where this practice had stopped, extinguished little by little by the major changes which took place in the Canadian Inuit societies. Some people are quite aware of the situation, express it openly and wish to change it. They are convinced that re-initiating dream narration and its collective sharing could probably contribute to significantly improve both individual and social lives in the communities. This paper illustrates these various aspects.

It also aims at showing on the one hand the interest of an entry into orality through dream and dream narration from the anthropological perspective, and on the other that it is fully relevant from the Inuit point of view, as they commented themselves during my fieldwork.