Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut November 06, 2018 - 3:30 pm

Inuktut training won’t yet be mandatory for GN jobs, Nunavut premier says

“We should focus on filling the positions first”

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Citing the chronic shortages of teacher and nurses in Nunavut, Premier Joe Savikataaq said yesterday his government is not yet ready to declare that Inuktut training be a mandatory requirement for Government of Nunavut jobs. (FILE PHOTO)
Citing the chronic shortages of teacher and nurses in Nunavut, Premier Joe Savikataaq said yesterday his government is not yet ready to declare that Inuktut training be a mandatory requirement for Government of Nunavut jobs. (FILE PHOTO)

Citing the chronic shortages of teachers and nurses in Nunavut, Premier Joe Savikataaq says that his government is not yet ready to declare that Inuktut training be a mandatory requirement for Government of Nunavut jobs.

“At this time I don’t wish to state that if you don’t take Inuktitut training, that you will lose your position or you will be terminated,” Savikataaq said in the legislature on Monday, Nov. 5, in response to questions from Aggu MLA Paul Quassa.

Quassa, who has portrayed himself as a champion of the Inuit language, had complained in questions that employees like teachers and nurses are not learning the Inuit language.

“We hear about teachers, nurses … and other employees who are not even taking any Inuktitut training according to residents,” Quassa said.

Instead, the Inuit language should enjoy the same status in Nunavut that French enjoys in Quebec, and become a compulsory language for territorial government jobs, Quassa said.

“This too should apply in Nunavut, where it [knowledge of the Inuit language] becomes a requirement,” he said.

Under a “plan” dating to 1999, Inuktitut was supposed to have become the working language of the territorial government by 2020, which is “almost upon us,” Quassa said.

Savikataaq replied that the GN paid for Inuktitut training for 159 GN workers in the 2017-18 fiscal year, and will spend $400,000 more this year to expand Inuit language training.

He also said Nunavut suffers from serious shortages of nurses and teachers, and filling those unfilled jobs remains a priority.

“Now, all weekend we have heard about the shortages of nurses within Nunavut. We have a shortage of teachers within Nunavut. This is what we continue to hear,” Savikataaq said.

The GN’s latest public service statistics appear to bear this out.

They show that as of September 2018, there are staggering numbers of unfilled jobs in Nunavut’s Health Department.

Out of 1,204 positions in the department, 552 full-time equivalent jobs are unfilled and only 652 jobs are filled: a vacancy rate of 46 per cent.

The Education Department suffered from 198 vacancies as of September 2018, for a vacancy rate of 15 per cent, the same report shows.

Savikataaq also reminded Quassa that in the previous week Quassa himself had asked about a shortage of teachers in Igloolik, the member’s home community.

“We should focus on filling the positions first, and I am in full support of any government employees who wish to take the conversational Inuktitut language training,” Savikataaq said.

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(42) Comments:

#1. Posted by Arnold McGillicuddy on November 06, 2018

There is going to be some very negative feedback Mr. Premier but I say this:

Thank you for being a true leader, making the hard decisions and thinking about the people of Nunavut first.

#2. Posted by Observer on November 06, 2018

The nurses are already overworked. When, exactly, are they supposed to take language training?

Or, to put it another way, which patients would Quassa prefer not get medical attention so the nurses can learn to talk about the weather?

#3. Posted by No Moniker on November 06, 2018

“We hear about teachers, nurses … and other employees who are not even taking any Inuktitut training according to residents.”

Maybe because, there is no training? So what does this tell us? I say this is a manifestation of populist politics in Nunavut; impractical, ideological, and driven by the whims of the ignorant (much like Trumpism, or Ford Nation).

I’m glad to see the current Premier has more insight and wisdom on this issue.

#4. Posted by Common Sense on November 06, 2018

A round of a applause to the Premier for being honest, and realistic. Understands its more important to have the services until the education system catches up. I would love for one day to receive services in Inuktitut, but I would first like to have the services that are offered in Iqaluit in my community!

#5. Posted by Jungle Gym on November 06, 2018

It is too much to ask some people to learn survival Inuktitut.  While qualified in some matters, Inuktitut will not be one of them. 

This is one of the ongoing failures of Nunavut, but it will get rare attention it deserves.

#6. Posted by Bbff on November 06, 2018

Good call premiere!

#7. Posted by Abraham on November 06, 2018

That Bshit all that time we had to learn to speak both languages and this is happening Bshite

#8. Posted by GN employee on November 06, 2018

Finally a leader with common sense!!!  Good job Premier.  Many GN employees would love to learn Inuktitut but the reality is most of us are working our tails off trying to go above beyond in our jobs.  We do the work of multiple positions because we are critically understaffed or lack staff with the correct qualifications.  Fill positions with qualified, skilled people first.  When we have that done people will have the time to learn Inuktitut.  It’s a priority for MANY of us but the truth is we must provide critical services and programs first.

#9. Posted by Observer on November 06, 2018

The difference from Quebec, which Quassa either doesn’t realize or fails to understand, is that Quebec was able to make French a requirement because there was already a population of people with professional training, advanced education, and experience available to fill those positions.

What’s more, Quebec was able to take advantage of immigrants from other provinces with French or bilingual populations, from countries such as Haiti, or from the European Union where about 20% of the population knows French as a first or secondary language.

They also had a school system going all the way to university where French education was available and as good as anywhere else in the country, with no shortage of everything from basic textbooks to literature in the language. And since French is widely spoken around the world, lots of people learn it as a second language.

Nunavut and Inuktitut has none of that.

#10. Posted by Another brick in the wall on November 07, 2018

I am a teacher. I would love to learn inuktitut, during work hours, and not huddled up at night in a class when i am exhausted, I would love to be allowed an extra week a year to be trained in the language and to use it in the classroom. Bring it on GN and take responsibility for teaching us like all the other workers get to be taught, so we feel valued and supported. Cos really, we do need an inuinnaqtun and Inuktitut education.

#11. Posted by GN Employee on November 07, 2018

Training when!? Many of us would love to learn Inuktitut, but our workloads are already too high to provide proper services without adding another task- and there is no support from supervisors to spend time learning. The GN needs to do more than offer training. They need to make sure staff can access it while still providing services to the communities!

#12. Posted by Legislative Assembly Staff Member on November 07, 2018

GRANDSTANDING MLA: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the health minister why there have been no nurses at the health centre in my community for the past 8 months! Mr Speaker, my constituents are starting to die from untreated disease! These Third World conditions are outrageous! People are dying!

HONOURABLE HEALTH MINISTER: Mr. Speaker, we have been unable to recruit any nurses who meet our government’s mandatory Inuktut language requirements. The death rates in the member’s community are a necessary sacrifice to ensure the purity of our sacred Inuit language in our Nunavut government.

#13. Posted by Do What I Can on November 07, 2018

I try to pick up as much Inuktitut as I can but I don’t prioritize it. If the GN provides paid training, during my regular hours then I would absolutely learn. Other that that… I out competed many beneficiaries to get this job and do three people’s workload so I don’t really see what you can do.

#14. Posted by Simona Arnatsiaq on November 07, 2018

fill the positions first? Does that meaning upping the Inuit Employment strategy and hiring Inuit?

#15. Posted by Can't hire folks who aren't qualified and don't ap on November 07, 2018

#14, the GN would hire inuit nurses if they existed and wanted to work as nurses!  As it is, the very few who get their nursing qualifications usually move to an easier field of work before very long.  Inuit have unfortunately shown little interested in becoming nurses, and that is the real reason why there is no service in Inuktitut.  Yet people in Nunavut still fantasize that in a just world they will force outsiders to come work for them and somehow do it in fluent inuktitut, too.  The job is already impossible, and you want it done by transplants from the south, in a language that is not spoken anywhere outside of the sparsely-populated arctic?

#16. Posted by Native on November 07, 2018

The whole idea of hiring people based off race is wrong number 14.

#17. Posted by Replyguy on November 07, 2018

Re: Do What I Can

Agreed, if the GN puts money, time and training out for us workers I’ll gladly take courses and work on my Inuktitut.

Also, let us not forget the elephant in the room… most Nunavummiut don’t effectively speak read or write in Inuktitut. Many can speak slang, but if you’re not fluent in the reading and writing components your language will never sustain itself.

#18. Posted by Chief Strategist on November 07, 2018

#14 Here’s the strategy, go to school and get an education, then when you get a job, show up.

Viola!

#19. Posted by Talkman on November 07, 2018

I would like to point out that Inuit have been in charge of teaching
Inuktitut for 40 years.
So many Inuit do not realize this.

#20. Posted by Ms.Tupak on November 07, 2018

Agree with #19
I also think that Camps in communities during summer would help a lot to Gn workers who can take time. It would make money for families who stay in their camp grounds during the summer. Immersion Inuktitut is best and every day language.

#21. Posted by Monica Connolly on November 07, 2018

It is, at present, unrealistic to expect to hire only teachers and nurses who already speak Inuktitut. It is not unrealistic to expect new hires to learn the language.
Nobody, of any education whatever, moving to France or Germany or Japan for a several-year job appointment, even a job in English, would NOT plan to learn the local language. The fact that this is not an automatic assumption in the North is a hangover from the days of the residential schools and their political supporters.
It is long past time to dump this colonialist attitude.
Yes, the government needs to insist on this learning, it needs to make courses available, free, during working hours, it needs to encourage all those who already speak Inuktitut to help their colleagues learn, and it needs to publicize and increase available online resources.

#22. Posted by Frank on November 07, 2018

Did he actually say lose your position or be terminated? Not yet…? To bad, I could use a half million dollar payout.

#23. Posted by David on November 07, 2018

#21

Nobody, of any education whatever, moving to France or Germany or Japan for a several-year job appointment, even a job in English, would NOT plan to learn the local language. The fact that this is not an automatic assumption in the North is a hangover from the days of the residential schools and their political supporters.
———————-
But it isn’t mandatory in any of your examples is it Monica?

And since you brought it up, what percentage of hirings are “several year job appointments”?


Honest question: Have you ever been to Nunavut?

#24. Posted by Monica Connolly on November 07, 2018

I would assume that most jobs in Europe hiring overseas experts would expect them to be able speak the language to some extent to begin with, and to pick it up more fluently over time.
I recently asked some of my friends what they would expect if they were moving to those countries for jobs, and to make it simpler, described the jobs as requiring only English, but said the employees would live in the community. Everyone said they would learn the language.
Most people who move to another area for a job are expecting to live there for a few years, unless it’s for a short-term contract project.
I lived in Iqaluit about 14 years, and visited two months ago. And I fell for the myth and learned far less Inuktitut than I should have. I’m working now on remedying that.

#25. Posted by Irony on November 07, 2018

They cannot get enough Inuktitut educators to teach Inuit students Inuktitut, but they think they can get educators to teach overworked GN employees Inuktitut?  I can see this going really well…...

#26. Posted by Toonik’s Grandfather on November 07, 2018

Hooray for Joe.  Teach them lnuit history, who they teaching, where they are, make more common sense.  Non lnuit will NEVER use lnuktitut in their classroom as a first Lang.  We need the hard to find resources in the school classroom.  Good job Joe.

#27. Posted by Out to lunch on November 07, 2018

#24 Write that comment in Inuktitut please, so we can see that it consists of more than just posturing and self righteous grandstanding.

#28. Posted by Greys Anatomy on November 07, 2018

Ms. Connolly, if you lived in Nunavut you would know that at least half of our nurses, if not more, do not work for the GN.

They work for employment agencies, who send them up to work on short term contracts of one month, three months, six months, sometimes longer. They are not expected to work “for a few years.”

This is the only way to keep our health centres staffed. Naturally, a 62 year old agency nurse saving for his or her retirement has no incentive to learn Inuktitut and never will.

Also, if you lived in Nunavut you would know that many non-Inuit GN staffers are not offered permanent positions. They work on short term contracts so that they can be pushed out if and when a beneficiary can be found to replace them.

So if the GN is not offering non-Inuit employees a long term future, why should those employees invest in learning Inuktitut?

Besides, the ability to speak Inuktitut is not respected anyway. The thing that matters is being a beneficiary of the NLCA and lots of beneficiaries cannot speak or write Inuktitut.

#29. Posted by David on November 07, 2018

Monica wrote:

I recently asked some of my friends what they would expect if they were moving to those countries for jobs, and to make it simpler, described the jobs as requiring only English, but said the employees would live in the community. Everyone said they would learn the language.
———————

Well…..... what an amazing coincidence Monica, what are the odds of that? Incredible that you have that experience to rely on…. I stand corrected…..

#30. Posted by Talkman on November 07, 2018

I once met four Inuit children, about 10 years old, who were very fluent
  in Inuktitut and English.
They had been adopted by Inuit grandparents who always spoke to
them in Inuktitut, and learned English from outside influences.
The ways of the elders are so good.
Inuit people are in charge of there own language.

#31. Posted by Iqianaaq on November 07, 2018

Suvailiqia arulariituq tana Savikataaq.  Qalunaralutuinaa

#32. Posted by olaf on November 07, 2018

Quit with the arguing back and forth
Quassa was right.
Joe, steeped in wildlife rules and systems cannot see past his nose.
The Federal Government included learning French into the daytime for its employees and they went ahead and learned it.
Make it part of long-term employees day and they will feel valued and supported as employees.
The short-termers, well, as insufferable as they are, pay them less for only coming up here to make $.
We all need $ but we do not have to exploit the North to get it.

#33. Posted by Inuksugait on November 07, 2018

Obviously Inuit Employment is not a priority!  It’s like saying INUIT should not apply to GN jobs.

#34. Posted by Uvanga on November 07, 2018

I don’t see what the big deal is? What’s wrong with making language training mandatory for all and should be part of orientation for new staff. GN should provide training dollars for this basic instruction. If one doesn’t learn the language thats their problem and don’t have to be penalized for it. At least have the training available and mandatory for all employees. That seems simple enough if we think our language is important for our future. GN needs to start recruiting Inuit teachers if we want our children to learn inuktut.. the leaders are just suppressing this language of ours

#35. Posted by Oh please. on November 08, 2018

#32

Insufferable are we? Sorry you feel that way. But not too sorry though, I take solace in knowing our “exploitation” keeps this territory running. I’m not going to apologize for leaving my home because another generation ruined it’s economy.

You’re welcome, is what I’m ultimately trying to say…

#36. Posted by get real on November 08, 2018

#34 “GN needs to start recruiting Inuit teachers” .. from where? You cannot ask someone to go fishing in a swimming pool, and then blame them for not catching any fish!

#37. Posted by Realism on November 08, 2018

#32 pay people less for coming up to make money? You realize that regardless of what their motive is, they are there because of a major gap employees up north right? So technically they are doing you a favour by taking jobs locals cannot do, to keep the system running. If you pay them less, they won’t move up north, then good luck trying to run a IT system with hunting knowledge!

#38. Posted by uvaga on November 08, 2018

most of us had Inuktitut teacher and they were elders who had grade 5 in the 60’s and 70’s, my granny was one of them and she had no grade just only read Inuktitut.

#39. Posted by Solutions? on November 08, 2018

Although Innuinaqtun is a minority in the group, how is it that everyone only talks about Inuktitut. What about preservation of their language? This will force them to learn it as their primary language and almost assuredly result in them losing it or lessening it over the years.

Additionally, most Inuit high school students are not fluent in Inuktitut, nor can read or write on a professional level. What happens to them? Implementation of forced fluency will destroy their entire future, limiting them to at least 30% or more of jobs in Nunavut when they can’t even apply for jobs meant for them.

#40. Posted by Reality Check on November 08, 2018

The Official Languages of Nunavut are Inuktitut, English and French.

Tell me I can’t speak English, and you will lose in court.

End of story.

#41. Posted by Toonik's Granfather on November 09, 2018

Joe S. I got another idea for you, halt the IQ days until all participants went throgh Inuit Awareness Workshops.  Then, they can go fishing on Fridays.

#42. Posted by Talkman on November 10, 2018

The GN should stop funding Inuktitut at schools, about $35 million a
year.
The money should be shared out amongst beneficiaries as a people’s
CULTURAL ALLOWANCE to hire elders to teach Inuktitut.

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