Media Centre

Berger Calls for Bilingual Education System in Nunavut

NR 06-10 BER ENG Berger Report.doc

(April 5, 2006 — Iqaluit, Nunavut) Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) President Paul Kaludjak announced that NTI’s five-year effort to negotiate a new Implementation Contract was vindicated by Thomas Berger’s Final Report on the Implementation of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

Thirty-two years after Berger won the landmark case in the Supreme Court of Canada that resulted in Canada’s land claims process, Berger completed his report on the Government of Canada’s progress in implementing the country’s largest land claim, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA). Berger was appointed conciliator last May when NTI, Government of Nunavut (GN) and Government of Canada negotiations to update the NLCA Implementation Contract reached an impasse after four years. In his report, Berger said he is not pleased with the federal government’s progress.

Berger’s major recommendation calls for the establishment of an Inuktitut and English bilingual education system in Nunavut from Kindergarten to Grade 12 as the only way government can meet the fundamental promise it made in the NLCA to increase the level of Inuit employment in the public and private sectors of Nunavut. He also recommends six short-term measures, including secure funding for an expanded Nunavut Sivuniksavut program, to boost Inuit employment in the near future.

After five years of trying to negotiate a new Implementation Contract, NTI feels that Berger’s report is a victory for Inuit, said Kaludjak. The report places the education system, which Berger calls a failure, at the heart of the promise of Nunavut, and calls for the Government of Canada and the Government of Nunavut to make sweeping changes to the school system in Nunavut.

For years NTI has told the government that the education system is not working – 76 per cent of our students drop out before completing Grade 12 compared to 25 per cent in the rest of Canada. This English only education system is failing us and not serving our children or the future of Nunavut, said Kaludjak.

Kaludjak said he expects the Government of Canada and the GN to make implementation of all of Berger’s recommendations a priority, and to begin to immediately fix the problems in Nunavut’s school system.

Berger also points out in his report that Canada’s claim to sovereignty in the Arctic has always rested on Inuit occupancy, and the signing of the NLCA was a vital step in strengthening that sovereignty. He points out that the Canadian Rangers are the only substantial full-time military presence in the Arctic.

Since Canada’s sovereignty in international law depends mainly on Inuit occupancy, it is in Canada’s interest to ensure that Inuit have a strong and active role in government in the Arctic, said Kaludjak. It makes sense to spend money on educating and training Inuit.

For further information:

Kerry McCluskey
Director of Communications
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated
Tel: (867) 975-4914 Toll-free: 1-888-646-0006