Media Centre

Government of Nunavut Fails the Inuit

For Immediate Release

Government of Nunavut Fails the Inuit

 (November 5, 2020 – Iqaluit, Nunavut)  Today, the Government of Nunavut (GN) chose to join the long history of colonial destruction of Inuit language and culture with the passing of An Act to Amend the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act.

“Nunavut was created to preserve and promote the Inuit language and culture in the midst of change and pressures of progress,” said Acting Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) President James Eetoolook. “Inuit will remember this day as the day the Government tried to strip us of the dream of bilingual education in our own land. It is a misguided act.”

In April 2019, NTI released a report which found that education in Nunavut has a history of cultural disempowerment and linguicide. Subtractive language learning diminishes student competence in Inuktut and in English and is failing students. The report concluded that Nunavut’s education system is inconsistent with obligations and commitments to the Inuit under domestic and international law.

NTI believes that there needs to be a Department of Education Inuit Employment Plan in place and implemented, with a timeline for training and hiring adequate numbers of Inuktut-speaking educators. It has sought to work with GN to address its challenges, including by securing funds for Inuit training. In May 2018, NTI encouraged teacher training initiatives with funds achieved through the 2015 settlement of NTI’s lawsuit against the Governments of Canada and Nunavut; at the time there was approximately $180 million available. In 2019, federal Ministers supported a plan for $69 million in teacher training. This plan was reduced to $42 million by the Government of Nunavut, announced in September 2019. The work has stalled and the Nunavut Arctic College has no first-year intake into the Nunavut Teacher Education Program.

Replacing Inuit rights with a timetable for adding an Inuktut language arts course to the curriculum, as Bill 25 does, is not a suitable alternative. The Department of Education must develop a realistic Inuit Employment Plan and base its Inuktut language of instruction timelines on that Plan. Since the Department of Education developed its 2017 Inuit Employment Plan, Inuit employment has actually fallen. In September, the Towards a Representative Public Service report shows that GN Inuit employment has fallen to 49% and in the Department of Education, it has fallen even more to 47%.

“The negative impacts of Bill 25 will be felt for generations,” said Eetoolook.

For further information:

Malaya Mikijuk
Director of Communications Trainee
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated
Tel: (867) 975-4900/Toll-free: 1-888-646-0006

“Nunavut was created to preserve and promote the Inuit language and culture”

For further information:
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated