Funding for public services in Inuktitut

Michelle Daveluy michelle.daveluy at
Wed Feb 2 18:30:10 UTC 2005

I am glad Nunatsiaq News is covered in this forum.

Please note that Inuktitut holds the status of official language in Nunavut,
with a number of other aboriginal languages. Nunavut was created 5 years
ago, and two territorial elections were held since then. However, the
Nunavut governement has not yet addressed the issue of the Nunavut official
languages law. The North West Territories language law was amended in 1999
and currently applies to Nunavut. According to this law, English and French
are official languages of Nunavut, with Inuktitut, and a number of other
aboriginal languages, like Dene languages, which previously held this status
in the former North West Territories.

The Language Commissionner of Nunavut has made recommandations to the
government to change this law. The main recommandation is to make Nunavut
officially trilingual (Inuktitut, English, and French) by discarding the
other aboriginal languages. Indeed the populations speaking these other
aboriginal languages now live west of Nunavut, in the remaining North West

However, there is no concensus as per the required number of official
languages in Nunavut: Innuinaqtun speakers are lobbying to also obtain
official status at the territorial level. For now, all recommandations list
Innuinaqtun in parenthesis wherever Inuktitut appears in the text of law.

The challenge described below lies in obligations the Nunavut government
does not have the means to provide for, since territorial funding remains a
federal affair in Canada. It also has to do with the fact that language is
not considered a priority by all parties involved in self-government
negociations and implementation, including Inuit and other aboriginal
representatives. Accordingly, Inuit political bodies claim there is one
Inuit language from Greenland to Alaska. If this united front was very
helpful in obtaining recognition for territorial and traditional susbistance
activites rights, it does not work as well as far as language(s)
sustainability goes.


le 02/02/05 09:53, Harold F. Schiffman à haroldfs at a
écrit :

> January 28, 2005, Nunatsiaq News:
> GN prepares to fight for federal Inuktitut funding
> If were going to meet our legal obligations, were going to need more money
> from the feds
> Its been five years since the creation of the territory that was supposed
> to bring government closer to the Inuit of the Eastern Arctic, but many
> people still do not have access to government services in their mother
> tongue.  The Government of Nunavut is preparing a battle plan for new
> negotiations with the federal government to get funding for public
> services in Inuktitut.
> For the past five years, the Department of Canadian Heritage has provided
> $1.45 million annually for French language services, and just $1.1 million
> a year for Inuktitut. The $1.45 million is used to provide access to
> government services in French, as required by law. But Inuktitut speakers
> might be better off learning English or French if they want to deal with
> the federal or territorial government, because the current agreement says
> that all of the $1.1 million for Inuktitut must be distributed to
> community-based language projects.
> That leaves the Government of Nunavut with no federal resources to provide
> services in Inuktitut. We think community-based initiatives are really
> great, and it helps to enhance the language in the communities, said
> Stphane Cloutier, acting co-director of official languages for CLEY. It
> helps people to do their own activities, but it doesnt help the GN we
> cannot access that money and deliver public services.
> The Canada-Nunavut Cooperation Agreement for French and Inuit Languages in
> Nunavut expired in 2004. Nunavut is now receiving funding through a
> one-year interim agreement.
> CLEY is using the interval to prepare an evaluation of the current deal to
> use as ammunition in new negotiations.
> The evaluation, conducted by Aarluk Consulting in Iqaluit, got underway
> last fall with a review of Inuktitut language legislation.
> Aarluk also interviewed several Nunavummiut, and territorial and federal
> officials. They held a workshop with Inuktitut language experts and
> artists in Iqaluit last November to review the findings.
> Negotiations with Canadian Heritage will begin when a full report on the
> evaluation is completed in mid-February.
> Cloutier expects to face an uphill battle.
> Right now, Canadian Heritage offers Inuit language funding through its
> Aboriginal Affairs program.
> CLEY would like to see Inuktitut recognized as an official language at the
> federal level, with funding to help promote Inuktitut as a living, working
> language in Nunavut.
> This issue cannot be resolved at the bureaucracy level, he said. This has
> to come from a political level, where someone will take a stand and say,
> Inuktitut is an official language in Canada, and as such, we should have
> special funding for that.
> In its 2004-2007 action plan on Inuktitut, CLEY calculated that the annual
> cost of providing Inuktitut services is close to $5 million.
> According to the document, the GN spends $1,677,000 annually to translate
> government legislation and documents; $1,462,000 to produce educational
> materials and school curricula in Inuktitut; $200,000 to teach government
> workers Inuktitut as a second language; and $149,000 to develop new
> Inuktitut terminology.
> That $3.5 million total does not include other costs, such as:
> interpreting equipment in the Legislative Assembly; translating debates in
> the Legislative Assembly; interpreting services in the justice system;
> salaries for teachers who teach in Inuktitut; consultants who do job
> interviews in Inuktitut; medical interpreters salaries; or other staff
> hired to deliver public services in Inuktitut.
> The fact is... Nunavut is the only place in Canada where the majority
> doesnt have English or French as their mother tongue  its Inuktitut,
> Cloutier said.
> Theres lots of education to do with the feds and especially with the
> language policy folks to make them understand that when Canada created
> Nunavut, they also created a place where they have to meet the needs of
> people who speak Inuktitut.
> Eighty-five per cent of people in Nunavut speak Inuktitut or Innuinaqtun
> as a first language, according to the 2001 Aboriginal Household Survey.
> That provides an excellent foundation for the GNs goal of having a fully
> bilingual society, and a government where the working language is
> Inuktitut, by the year 2020.
> But the survey also found that 42 per cent of Inuit had difficulty
> receiving services in Inuktitut from the federal government, and 29 per
> cent had trouble getting Inuktitut services from the GN.
> According to Cloutier, a new language agreement must also include more
> funding for French as demand increases.
> We have a legal obligation to offer all of these services in three
> languages, Cloutier said. If were going to meet our legal obligations,
> were going to need more money from the feds.

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