Nunatsiaq News
LETTERS: Nunavut June 11, 2012 - 6:39 am

Nunavut language commission responds to standing committee


The Office of the Languages Commissioner (OLC) of Nunavut wishes to express its perspective on the Nunatsiaq News article of May 30, 2012.

The article reported the statements made by the MLA Mr. Ron Elliot, Chair of the Standing Committee on Oversight of Government Operations and Public Accounts, during his report on the review of the OLC’s 2010-11 annual report.

Elliot was quoted as saying that a “significantly greater level of detail regarding the activities undertaken by the Languages Commissioner Office was required […] rather than broad generalizations.”

Languages Commissioner Alexina Kublu says, “When I took on my role in January of 2009 the Director of Policy was in the process of finalizing three outstanding annual reports. Since then the office has produced two annual reports, each responding to recommendations made by the Standing Committee.

“Among the recommendations — to improve recording of documents and statistics, details that the committee feels were not covered. Considering the resources available, significant efforts were made to provide this information. These included statistics of the concerns recorded, a critical review of departmental press releases as well as a comprehensive overview on the status of French and Inuit languages in Nunavut.”

While we appreciate the recommendations, and will continue to work to act upon them, anonymity will always be respected when it comes to reporting concerns.

Kublu points out that “Nunavut’s communities have small populations. For us to divulge too much information would risk breaching confidentiality.”

Public confusion does indeed exist about the various pieces of language legislation and the scope of the OLC’s mandate. 

Since the passing of the new legislation in 2008, there are four main roles: ombudsman, advocating, monitoring and advisory.

The office is not responsible for language promotion, translation services or teaching.

Mr. Elliott points out that his constituents, “would rather have government money and resources to put food on the table.”

While this is true for many of us, legislation to protect, promote and preserve the language rights of Nunavummiut was passed by the Legislative Assembly in 2008.

Therefore, it is also a priority of this government to ensure that Nunavummiut have the right to express themselves and to work in their language of choice. These priorities are reflected in the Uqausivut Comprehensive Implementation Plan.

In the same way that the Legislative Assembly is “gently” helping us, we are “gently” trying to help the government improve in their compliance with language legislation. We are not here to impede its capacity to deliver its programs and services to Nunavummiut.

Rather, the role and activities conducted by the office are meant to provide guidance and to make constructive recommendations to all departments and agencies, including the Legislative Assembly.

We recognize the importance of everyone co-operating in this process, and expect the continued support and respect of the members.

Office of the Languages Commissioner of Nunavut

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