Federal goverment looking for feedback ahead of Indigenous language legislation

Public consultations to start in Iqaluit, Kuujjuaq next month

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

Inuit representatives take part in language consultations led by the Department of Canadian Heritage in Ottawa June 15. The federal government plans to introduce new Indigenous languages legislation this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY OF ITK)


Inuit representatives take part in language consultations led by the Department of Canadian Heritage in Ottawa June 15. The federal government plans to introduce new Indigenous languages legislation this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY OF ITK)

The Department of Canadian Heritage has launched a new round of public consultations to help draft the federal government’s Indigenous Languages Act.

The department has been in discussions with Indigenous groups and language experts since June 2017 to gather feedback on how to best preserve and revitalize Indigenous languages.

The Trudeau government pledged to table such legislation within its current mandate. The department now says that legislation should be introduced by the fall.

As part of that process, government officials are hosting a number of consultations in the coming weeks in Inuit communities, north and south.

Heritage Canada hosted a session in Ottawa earlier this month with representatives of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

In the coming weeks, the department will be hosting sessions in the following cities or communities:

• Montreal on July 16

• Iqaluit on July 18

• Kuujjuaq on July 24

• Winnipeg on Aug. 29

The sessions are full-day events which run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration and more information is available on the Canadian Heritage website.

Inuit have already told the federal government that they want better protection and promotion for Inuktut.

Roughly 70 per cent of Nunavut Inuit speak Inuktut as their first language, though that rate is declining at about one per cent per year.

At a recent United Nations forum, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. President Aluki Kotierk called on the federal government to recognize Inuktut as one of the country’s founding languages.

Inuktut is indeed an official language in Nunavut, but does not enjoy that status federally, as Canada’s two official languages, English and French, do.

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