Nunavut tables language law road map
"Our goal is to deliver concrete results"
A “practical, realistic approach” to implementing Nunavut’s language legislation is how Nunavut’s languages minister James Arreak described the Uqausivut language plan tabled June 9 in the Nunavut legislature.
The Uqausivut Comprehensive Plan is intended to be a “roadmap” for Government of Nunavut departments and agencies to meet their obligations under Nunavut’s language act, which recognizes the Inuit language, English and French as the official languages of the territory.
The plan lays out ways to keep Inuktitut prominent, while also suggesting measures to strengthen French-language government services.
“Our goal is to deliver concrete results that will ensure the substantive equality of all official languages in Nunavut,” said Arreak in a GN news release.
As part of the plan, the GN is proposing a Inuit language strategy that it says will strengthen policy and administrative framework through:
• the coordination of Inuit language services provided by the government, private sector organizations and municipalities to the public on a day-to-day basis;
• Inuit language training at all stages of life — within the school system, in early childhood education, and for adults who wish to learn or improve their language skills;
• Inuit language programs and services targeted at age groups and communities where there has been language loss; and,
• the standardization of the Inuit language, so that it can used in modern government and business and other domains.
The GN’s French language strategy is meant to improve public services provided in French and to promote the language among the territory’s francophone community.
Nunavut’s Official Languages Act was approved by the legislative assembly in 2008. It addressed the use of Inuktitut, English and French in the assembly, Nunavut’s court and other government services.
The Inuit Language Protection Act was also approved in 2008. It guarantees the right to Inuit language education, defining specific obligations for public services, private businesses and protecting unilingual and bilingual employees of the territorial government who choose to work in Inuktitut.
Roughly 70 per cent of Nunavummiut said Inuktitut was their mother tongue in the 2006 census, while only 54 per cent said it was the main language used in their home.
The same census said 1.4 per cent of Nunavummiut said French was their mother tongue, although about half of that number said they spoke English at home.
Uqausivut, which took two years to draft, is now welcoming public input from Nunavummiut.
The plan is available at http://www.cley.gov.nu.ca or by calling the department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth at (867) 975-5500.
Nunavummiut may comment on the plan until August 26.