Will Air Canada use the Inuit language?


I wish to comment on Air Canada’s planned air service between Iqaluit and Ottawa to start in March 2010.

As a loyal passenger of both Canadian North and First Air, I feel I must make some comments, in defence of the two northern airlines. As an Inuk beneficiary, I have a stake in Canadian North and some say on First Air.

Canadian North reinstated their Iqaluit-Ottawa-Iqaluit schedule in November of 1999 to the pleasure of most northerners. During a reception that month, Mariano Aupilardjuk, a unilingual Inuk elder from Rankin Inlet, made a speech in Inuktitut to the crowd and in part he said: “When I fly I don’t at all understand any of the announcements they make in English on an airplane. Whenever, I have to go to the washroom, I have to ask in a sign language. And the only time I know when an airplane is landing, is when they (flight attendants) are giving out candies.”

As a member of the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly in 1987, I started to work on the recognition of Inuktitut as an official language in the Northwest Territories, equal to French and English. I also promoted the Inuktitut language at both Canadian North and First Air, by providing safety announcements in Inuktitut.

The good thing was, both airlines listened and now have Inuktitut safety announcements on all of their flights, along with French and English. They have also hired Inuit flight attendants, excellent for northerners.

I would like to ask, if Air Canada is planning to establish a special Inuit unit within their company, especially to provide Inuktitut services on all their flights and provide a culturally appropriate service, in addition to providing services in the other official languages, French and English.

Peter Irniq

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