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Inuit Celebrate Nunavut Official Language Act Obtaining Parliamentary Concurrence

(June 12, 2009 – Iqaluit) The Senate of Canada unanimously passed the Nunavut Official Languages Act after much debate in Ottawa on June 11, 2009. The Act needed concurrence from Parliament as per section 38 of the Nunavut Act.

NTI President Paul Kaludjak stated, “This is truly a historic moment. The Inuit Language is now considered an official language of Canada within the jurisdiction of the Nunavut Territory. We, as Inuit, are very proud of this accomplishment.”

Officials from Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association presented to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs this week to urge the passing of the Act. The officials also provided clarification on some of the concerns as expressed by the Senate.

“Our Inuit language now has the legislative base it needs to remain strong and become stronger. We will no longer be made to feel like strangers in our own homeland, because Inuit language services will be widely available throughout Nunavut as per the provisions in the Official Languages Act,” said Joe Attagutaluk, Secretary Treasurer of QIA and the Chair of the QIA language and communications committee.

The Official Languages Act recognizes Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, English and French as the official languages of Nunavut. The Act will ensure that services are provided in the Inuit language from the Territorial and Federal Government within Nunavut, in the legal administration and from the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut. The Act is complimentary to the Inuit Language Protection Act.

Despite being a young territory, Nunavut has taken the lead in aboriginal language protection, promotion and advancement in Canada. The Official Languages Act will hopefully serve as a positive example to follow for other aboriginal groups nationally and internationally in regard to advancement of aboriginal language rights.

For further information contact:

BJ Barnes
Acting Director of Communications
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated
Tel: (867) 975‐4900
Fax: (867) 975‐4949
Toll free: (888) 646‐0006

Vinnie Karetak
Director of Communications
Qikiqtani Inuit Association
Tel: (867) 975‐8400
Fax: (867) 979‐3238
Toll free: (800) 667‐2742

15-06-2009_press release official languages act INUK ENG.pdf