Media Centre

NTI Welcomes Nunavut Court of Appeal Decision to Allow Education Equality Rights Lawsuit Trial Preparations to Proceed

For Immediate Release

(May 22, 2024 — Iqaluit, Nunavut) Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) is pleased with the Nunavut Court of Appeal’s decision to allow trial preparations to proceed without further delay in the lawsuit launched by two Inuit families and NTI against the Government of Nunavut (GN).

In that lawsuit NTI and the Inuit families, on behalf of all Nunavut Inuit, seek protection under section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to end discrimination that Inuit students experience in Nunavut schools by not having Kindergarten to Grade 12 education available in Inuktut. In their decision last week, the Nunavut Court of Appeal wrote that “justice delayed is often justice denied…and to halt this claim pending all available appeals could add years to the lawsuit.”
“The GN’s current education system is very similar to what we experienced as children, being forced to learn only English in schools. We have tried to push for change to reverse a predominantly English school system through this case. But instead, the GN has tried to avoid and delay the trial with multiple procedural motions,” said NTI Vice President Paul Irngaut. “However, we are pleased that the Courts continue to rule in favor of allowing Inuit an opportunity to prove the case that Inuit students experience systemic discrimination in schools by not having the choice to learn in Inuktut”.

The GN first filed to have the lawsuit dismissed from court with a Motion to Strike application in April 2022, but the Nunavut Court of Justice denied the request. The GN appealed that decision in March 2023, then filed a Motion to Stay the claim in July 2023, asking the court to pause any litigation steps while awaiting the Nunavut Court of Appeal decision on the Motion to Strike. In this latest Nunavut Court of Appeal decision, the limited stay that the Nunavut Court of Justice granted the GN has been overturned.

“Inuktut language needs to be supported and promoted by the GN in the school system for Inuit students to succeed and attain higher levels of education”, said Vice President Irngaut. “Without Inuktut as the foundation of the education system, serious harm is brought to Nunavut Inuit by impeding academic achievement, hindering our goal of increasing graduation rates, and denying more Nunavut Inuit students the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education.”

After decades of attempting to work with the GN, NTI filed the claim in October 2021. The claim asserts that the GN’s 2020 amendments to the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act, which removed the Inuktut language of instruction requirement from Kindergarten to Grade 12, results in systemic discrimination against Inuit students.


Media Contact:
Kevin Kablutsiak
Director of Communications
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

Download (PDF, 173KB)