Iqaluit councillors push for plan to help enforce territory’s language laws

Committee calls for city staff to prepare plan to ensure businesses comply with Inuktut signage requirements

Iqaluit’s strategic planning and economic development committee passed a motion on Tuesday to develop a plan to help enforce the territory’s Inuit Language Protection Act in the city’s business licensing bylaws. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Iqaluit city councillors are taking a step towards ensuring the city’s businesses have signs written in the Inuit language.

The strategic planning and economic development committee agreed on Tuesday that city staff should develop a plan to help enforce the territory’s Inuit Language Protection Act, by including sections of the act in the city’s business licensing bylaws.

“We do pretty well,” said Coun. Kyle Sheppard, who brought forward the motion. “But there’s definitely still some gaps and those get pointed out by residents all the time.”

The territorial law requires businesses to incorporate Inuktut into signage and products. But, as it stands, Sheppard said there aren’t consequences for businesses that don’t have proper signage.

Coun. Joanasie Akumalik said he wants to see Inuktut syllabics for lots of different signage. He mentioned “enter,” “exit” and washroom signs as examples.

He said he wants to see a plan that addresses signs in banks, schools, restaurants and the hospital and airport, as well as other places.

“Inuktitut use would better improve communication and education for those who don’t understand, read or write English,” Akumalik said.

Mayor Kenny Bell said he’s “a firm believer that the Government of Nunavut needs to enforce [its] own laws.” But, he said, “it is important that we are a cultural centre, that is one of our mandates for Iqaluit. And we want to make sure that is strong, and in doing that, we want to make sure the language is strong.”

Sheppard said he is hoping changes to the business licensing bylaw can be made by 2022. He said there may be a grace period to allow businesses the time to comply.

“Most businesses do a good job of incorporating Inuktitut already,” said Sheppard. “It’s the right thing to do.”

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(19) Comments:

  1. Posted by Paul Murphy on

    I believe this is an issue for the Languages Commissioner?
    Is the Mayor bilingual?
    No concern about French another official language?
    Let us not forget Inuinnaqtun as well. Their are many Inuinnaqtun speaking residents in Iqaluit.

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    • Posted by Help us on

      Yes, it is always disappointing how easily Inuinnaqtun is ignored by baffiners. They always ignore. Our language is at risk more than Inulktit and needs protection

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      • Posted by Active on

        Don’t forget Inuktitut in your area too, goes both ways.

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        • Posted by josywales on

          No worry, it’s constantly pushed over in the West while nil Inuinaktuk pushed to the East.

  2. Posted by Pictgrams on

    A lots of trouble and cost can be avoided by using pictogram signs, they are easy to understand in any language.
    A hospital can have the cross on it, the Exit sign the running person and a washroom is identified by a female or male person. Bank signs can have a coin or dollar bill shown. All of these already exist and do not have to be designed and fabricated. Businesses like grocery stores, hardware, survival, electrical, garages, restaurants and bars, etc. could have the proper signage translated, designed and fabricated, but it would be only for Nunavummiut visiting Iqaluit.
    I’d say to focus on multi lingual services in all business, organizations and the GN. This is where the slack of service is and remember there are 4 official languages in Nunavut, not only 2

    • Posted by uvanga on

      there are 3 official languages. Inuktut, English and French. English is the most spoken next is the Inuit Language and French the least spoken (majority in Iqaluit). Inuit get another protection with the Inuit Language Protection Act. Inuinnaqtun is a dialect that is rather quickly disappearing compared to the eastern dialects and require a special focus. as Inuit we need to focus on the use of one writing system to unify our dialects with the help from Inuit Uqausinginnik taiguusiliurtiit

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      • Posted by Pictgrams on

        Yes, you are correct, my mistake. However, providing services and if needed, signs in Inuinnaqtun would be essential, even though there are not too many Inuit still speak Inuinnaqtun in the Kitikmeot region. I believe the language act indicated that a revitalization has to happen to keep this language alive. Thank you for the correction, it’s always appreciated

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      • Posted by Paul Murphy on

        Sorry to have to correct your comment Uvanga, but there are four official languages in Nunavut. And the Inuinnaq have every right to expect that to be respected as much as Inuktitut.

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        • Posted by Uvanga on

          Under Nunavut’s Official Languages Act, the head offices of the territorial institutions must provide services in the three official languages french english and inuit language. Other territorial government offices must serve the public in one of the official languages if there is a significant demand, if the nature of the office warrants its use or when prescribed by regulation. Nunavummiut may appear before a judicial or quasi-judicial body in the official language of their choice.

          The Inuit Language Protection Act established the right to use this language and set out measures to revitalize it. It guarantees the right to be educated in the Inuit language and to work in this language in the territory’s institutions. The Act aims to establish the Inuit language as a language of government, municipal, community organization and corporate communications.

          Nunavut has 3 not four official languages

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          • Posted by You Can Do Better There Uvanga on

            Stop spreading misinformation.

            There are two Inuit languages and four official languages.

            You can do better – try again.

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      • Posted by Stop Ignoring Us! on

        Incorrect. There are four official languages, and Inuinnaqtun has equal status to Inuktitut. It is not a ‘dialect”, it is a language and is legally recognized as such.

        It angers me how ‘inuktut’ has become code for Inuktitut and how the easterners ignore us.

      • Posted by Strong on

        I don’t speak a dialect – I speak a language.

        I have no interest in unifying with you, Uvanga – none. My interest is in growing my language (not a dialect) across this territory.

        You, and people like you, are not helping that.

        The elders have said that we in the west were better of as part of nwt. the way that our language is treated, I think that they are right.

        I have nothing against you, but when you call my language a dialect you are part of the problem.

        • Posted by Uvanga on

          Apologies for disrespecting you. I am inuk and understand the dialect of inuinaqtun. Majority of our dialect in the inuit language are the same. Uumati tahtu, tinguk, atauhiq, marluuk, pingasut, hitamat, tallimat. Qingaq iji, huiq, havaktuq, qaritaq, tikiq, putuguq, kulluk, isigak so on. Its all the same just different way of saying. We just need to expand our inuit language vocabulary the we will all be United and strengthen our inuit language. No more divide and concur as that is killing us

  3. Posted by Inuktituusuu on

    All NGOs should be using Inuktut as well, BLM, Francophone society, Uquutaq society, etc.

  4. Posted by Paul Murphy on

    From the Inuit Languages Act: Inuit Language (2) Except as directed by the Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit under paragraph 16(5)(b), “Inuit Language” means, (a) in or near Kugluktuk, Cambridge Bay, Bathurst Inlet and Umingmaktuuq, Inuinnaqtun; (b) in or near other municipalities, Inuktitut; and (c) both Inuinnaqtun and Inuktitut as the Commissioner in Executive Council may, by regulation, require or authorize

    Inuinnaqtun is an official language.

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    • Posted by Uvanga on

      You are looking at the inuit language protection act. under the official language act its 3 languages. Review the nunavut language legislations. Official languages act and the the Inuit language protection act. Inuinnaqatun and inuktitut are very similar but one uses syllabics and the other the alphabet for writing systems. Havakpit inuinaqnut?

  5. Posted by Paul Murphy on

    From the Official Languages Act “Know Your Rights”

    The Official Languages Act for Nunavut recognizes the Inuit (Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun), English and French languages as the official languages within the territory. Click here for a History of Nunavut’s Language Laws.

    The Inuit language
    The Inuit language includes Inuinnaqtun and Inuktitut.

  6. Posted by Perplexed on

    Aren’t inuktitut and inuinnaqtun the same language just different dialects??

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