Last day for Nunavut’s first languages Commissioner

After a year of waiting, Eva Aariak chooses private sector



Nunavut’s out-going language commissioner said her replacement will have to be “persistent” in lobbying the government of Nunavut if the territory ever hopes to have Inuktitut as a working language.

Eva Aariak made a bittersweet departure as the territory’s language watchdog this week, leaving behind a long list of unfulfilled wishes in her battle to see the GN create legislation to protect local languages.

In her last days on the job, Aariak challenged MLAs to accomplish what the previous government could not – namely bringing an Official Languages Act and Inuktitut Protection Act to Nunavut.

“The government of Nunavut has been saying for years that they’d like to make Inuktitut the working language of Nunavut,” Aariak said.

“I would like to see the government walking the talk.”

The government has failed to move forward on most of Aariak’s recommendations for future legislation.

Nonetheless, Aariak added another oblique recommendation, this time about how the government should fill her former position.

The Ajauqtiit committee overseeing the language commissioner’s office took a year to offer a second mandate to Aariak, who eventually received a job offer in the private sector.

Aariak, who served almost five years as commissioner, said she’s now looking forward to working for the Pirurvik Centre, a language and cultural consultancy group in Iqaluit.

But asked what she thought of the committee’s hiring process, Aariak seemed disappointed.

Aariak said it was the committee’s right to advertise the job for new candidates. But she pointed out that Nunavut’s privacy and integrity commissioners were re-appointed to their positions, and did not have to wait a year to know whether they would have a job.

Despite the let-down, Aariak said her office has come a long way, expanding from one commissioner with a desk and a phone, to a bustling bureau with three staff people. She added that the office has also built a good rapport with every community, especially elders around the territory, whom she thanked before her departure.

Aariak said she hopes her initial work will make it easier for the next commissioner to inform Nunavummiut about the commissioner’s mandate to protect their language rights.

“That’s what this office is for,” Aariak said. “It’s to help the public deal with their language issues.”

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