Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik August 22, 2012 - 2:47 pm

Nothing would prevent use of Inuktitut under PQ government: Ferland

"For us, there’s no question of changing anything for Inuit or for Crees"

JANE GEORGE
Luc Ferland of the Parti Québécois is running for re-election Sept. 4 in the Ungava riding that includes Nunavik. (FILE PHOTO)
Luc Ferland of the Parti Québécois is running for re-election Sept. 4 in the Ungava riding that includes Nunavik. (FILE PHOTO)

Luc Ferland, the incumbent Parti Québécois MNA for Ungava, said he wants to assure Nunavik Inuit that if a PQ government takes power Sept. 4, it won’t require Inuit to speak French if they want to get elected to public office.

Ferland promised that the PQ government would give priority “first and foremost” to the use and preservation of Inukitut in Nunavik and work closely with communities to that end.

Any group of people who risk losing their language, like Inuit or Québécois, risk disappearing themselves, he said.

“For us, there’s no question of changing anything for Inuit or for Crees,” Ferland said.

These comments came Aug. 22 after PQ leader Pauline Marois said Aug. 21 she’s ready to stop anglophones, allophones (who speak languages other than French or English), and aboriginal people from running in municipal and provincial elections if they can’t speak French “well enough.”

Marois also said a PQ government would file a new bill establish “Quebec citizenship.”

In 2007, the PQ promoted a bill called the Quebec Identity Act that would see newcomers pass a French language test before being allowed to run for public office.

On Aug. 21, Marois said the new bill would require “all citizens of Quebec who want to be elected as mayor, as a councillor or as a member [of the National Assembly]” to know French.

Marois said her government would find a way of measuring that competence in French.

The PQ would not require elected officials to be fully bilingual, but rather “be able to be understood” in French.

“Sometimes my English is poor, as you know, but I think I managed to still express my thoughts usually pretty well. We may be able to learn from my experience,” Marois told reporters.

Kitty Gordon, speaking on behalf of Makivvik Corp., has called the PQ’s plan “ridiculous.”

“None of the First Nations in Quebec” will bend to “a foreign law adopted by a provincial government,” said a statement from Quebec and Labrador Assembly of First Nations’s Chief Ghislain Picard.

Ferland said that Marois was mainly directing her comments to Montreal.

There are historical reasons that Nunavik Inuit speak in English, Ferland said — and he said that’s made him try to improve his own English so he can communicate with his constituents.

However, Ferland, who just returned from Chisasibi, where two of every three aboriginal students study in French, said that reality is likely to change over time.

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