More Inuit working in government, less Inuit language used there: survey
Deputy minister calls increase in Inuit hires good news, but there’s a long way still to go
While there has been a slight increase in Inuit working in government in Nunavut, there has also been a decrease in the amount of Inuit language used in government workplaces, according to a survey released by Statistics Canada.
“It’s kind of good news … but we do have a long way to go,” said Jimi Onalik, deputy minister for Nunavut’s Department of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs.
The survey, which was released May 27, examines information such as Inuit employment in government, how much Inuktut is spoken at work, and challenges to Inuit employment.
It covers territorial and federal government employees in Nunavut, comparing results from 2016 and 2021.
In 2021, it found, 57 per cent of government employees in Nunavut were Inuit, compared to 52 per cent in 2016.
However, as a part of the Nunavut Agreement, the goal is to reach a level of Inuit employment in government that is representative of Nunavut’s Inuit population aged 15 or older, which Statistics Canada lists as 80 per cent.
In terms of language, 42 per cent of all respondents were comfortable using an Inuit language at work in 2021, up from 36 per cent in 2016.
But in 2021, only 33 per cent of all respondents said they use an Inuit language at work, which is a decline from 38 per cent in 2016. For Inuit respondents, that number was 63 per cent, although the survey does not report how that number compares to 2016.
Onalik said the decline in the use of Inuit languages in the workplace might be part of a broader societal trend in the decline of Inuktut speaking. But, he said, the GN needs to do a better job at encouraging its use, as language is a factor in making the government a more comfortable workplace for Inuit.
“Part of that is the ability to communicate in the language in which you are most familiar and which you are thinking,” he said.
Onalik also wants the GN to hire more permanent employees. According to the survey, approximately two in five government employees did not hold permanent jobs.
“It’s hard to ask employees to commit to you if you’re not willing to commit to them,” Onalik said.
One solution is to speed up the hiring process to ensure more people are hired, he said.
Child care was also a significant challenge cited by survey respondents, as 22 per cent indicated their current child-care arrangements were not good enough.
Onalik said he wasn’t able to work for a year after his son was born, so he understands the need for better child care. But, he added, under the $10-a-day child-care agreement signed with the federal government, those conditions should be improving soon.
He added that the territorial government’s sixth legislative assembly is also focusing on other areas, such as elder care and construction, as a way to improve Inuit employment rates.
Statistics Canada did not respond to Nunatsiaq News’ interview request.
The missing data should be made public. Just because you’re given a job doesn’t mean you’re successful at it.
“ However, as a part of the Nunavut Agreement, the goal is to reach a level of Inuit employment in government that is representative of Nunavut’s Inuit population aged 15 or older, which Statistics Canada lists as 80 per cent.”
The Nunavut Agreement does not say this. This is a big leap on what it says.
definition: “”representative level” means a level of Inuit employment within Government reflecting the ratio of Inuit to the total population in the Nunavut Settlement Area; this definition will apply within all occupational groupings and grade levels;”
23.2.1: “The objective of this Article is to increase Inuit participation in government employment in the Nunavut Settlement Area to a representative level. It is recognized that the achievement of this objective will require initiatives by Inuit and by Government.”
I agree, the Nunavut Agreement does compel the GN to work toward employment of Inuit at a representative level. The question of time frames is less clear.
The key language that people always gloss over is the requirement for Inuit employment plans to include: “measures consistent with the merit principle” (23.4.2)
If we are just pushing for numerical targets without developing such measures, we are engaged in a crass exercise in quota-filling. We aren’t helping the GN and we aren’t helping Nunavut.
THE KEY INGREDIENT: “…this objective will require initiatives by Inuit and by Government.”
By INUIT and by Government.
To NTI, there are no obligations on Inuit such as a) finishing high school b) attending university for free.
80%? Does this mean 80% of inuk descent? Or does that mean 80% must have one inuk ancestor? Or could they have one inuk great grandparent out of eight, and still qualify?
I’d like to see the success rates of inuit in this territory based on % composition. You want to see white privilege in action? A 25% inuk will almost certainly be more successful than a 100% inuk.
Inuktitut will never be a priority for this government, this government would rather be a carbon copy of a southern government.
We don’t have Inuktitut curriculum, very little materials to teach Inuktitut and the program at Arctic college is flawed for decades now to produce Inuktitut teachers,
in short not a priority. GN has a hard enough time to complete the simplest things and something more complicated like this is over their heads.
I hear more foreign languages at my GN job than I do Inuktitut. We are under represented on a wide scale. There are very few Inuktitut speaking employees in every department causing an unfair work load for those that want to be served in Inuktitut, rightfully so, but it makes the workload way more than those who do not speak Inuktitut and creating resentment towards foreign colleagues in the long run
You must be in health. If so, welcome to the Canadian reality, not unique to Nunavut. Better brush up on your Tagalog!
The best workers I ever had spoke Tagalog, I’ll take them any day over most of the other options
I wrote that original comment, and it was not meant as any sort of insult.
I’m in full agreement with you, Filipino-Canadian Nunavummiut are often some of the best co-workers you’ll ever find.
If it weren’t for Filipinos, Nunavut’s health care system would be in complete shambles, and that’s saying a lot.
I feel more comfortable speaking Inuktitut with other Inuit, but some Inuit can not speak Inuktitut even thought they have an Inuk last name.
What an odd way of thinking, and very out of touch with demographic reality.
How many people with Gaelic surnames don’t speak Gaelic.? How many with French surnames don’t speak French? In Nunavut, there are many with very Irish or English surnames who speak fluent Inuktitut – surnames have nothing to do with it.
Surnames have little to do with language ability, and it is amazing to me that there are people who think that way.
Am I reading your comment right, in that, if an Inuk has an Inuk last name, that requires them to speak Inuinnaqtun/Inuktitut?
Not true. That guys fluent.
The language of business in the world is English. Maybe mandarin in Asia. It is not Inuktitut in North America. How can Nunavut be expected to compete on a world stage if the language of business is not English? The fantasy world that some Nunavummuit live in where the entire world will cater to a language spoken by less people than a small town is one that must be hard to live in.
Teach the language, use the language, just do it at home.
You know have you ever heard of the province of Quebec, French is the main language there, I do not speak Inuktitut but there is nothing wrong with trying to learn it. I am trying but not good at it , so stop peddling English is the main language,
The Province of Quebec goes to extreme lengths, including violating the Charter and Constitution, to protect French, but numbers decrease all the same. I don’t know if you’ve been to Gatineau, Montreal, Quebec City, but when I go there I order my Big Mac in English. And guess what, I get my Big Mac.
Anyone who thinks there will ever be a day, or that there ever should be a day, where someone walks into a Nunavut hotel, restaurant, or government office and will not be served in English is naiive and unrealistic. 99.8% of business is done in English and people need to get with the program.
100% . It is simply super naive to think this cultural reinvigorating will amount to anything more than a reclaimed identity. But let’s not kid ourselves, it will never come back as a language of business in the age of globalisation. Money talks.
P.s. the Welsh, spoke overwhelmingly Welsh a hundred years ago and even inspired the Irish republicans who couldn’t fathom a people under the British yoke maintaining their language and identity… but now, nearly no one speaks language as a first language and barely fluently. Languages die, and there’s a certain sadness to that, but inevitable.
You make it seem like its his fault he doesnt know his language nor speak it. Think about why he may not know his language and think about the message he is sending by what he said….its a no brainer. But yeah, shame him for not speaking his language like he chose for his entire culture to be wiped out
Inutituut may be widely spoken at home, that by itsekf does not insure it will thrive in the coming years.
On another important note this is what CBC’s censors black out from its website. Important info behind our involvement in a conflict promoted and created by war mongers.
“Alex Christoforou, Alexander Mercouris at their Duran website have loads of additional info on the European economic and political affairs. And how much of it is brushed over and ignored in the media for purposes other than our need to be knowledgeable and informed.”
Maybe because they are Russian propagandists
I’m sorry but speaking Inuktitut (or any language) at hime with children absolutely, 100% is required for said language to thrive. Expecting kids in English speaking homes to attend Inuktitut classes and come out fluent is laughable and naive. NTI is out in space on that thinking.
Qannurli? Not many speak Inuinnaqtun in one of the major Kitikmeot community, it’s questionable. Getting an Inuinnaqtun interpreter for an Inuk is unreal. I tried applying for one of those cushy, comfortable jobs that I’m experienced in, sitting behind a desk with a big salary. No reply, no acknowledgement letter, no courtesy call, no appeal notice, what’s up with HR too? I suppose they hire only family or friends who have elementary grade level – maybe that’s why I’m excluded.
Did you only apply once?
Be persistent instead of bitter.
The relevant Nunavut Agreement objective on Inuit employment is: “Inuit participation in government employment in the Nunavut Settlement Area to a representative level”. Representative level is defined as “a level of Inuit employment within Government reflecting the ratio of Inuit to the total population in the Nunavut Settlement Area”.
There is no over-15-years-of-age caveat, so the target is around 85% not around 80%.
Government employment is defined to also includes municipal staff so the current percentage achieved is probably closer to 67% than 57%
Why is an energy corporation and a housing corporation considered government? If government pays for every construction firm why not count them? Should we also consider NTI government since it is likewise government funded?
Reading the land claim like you are actually suggests it is not an obligation but some political fluff. Who would ever have intended it to consider child labour? Can the government just pass a law saying that employment is now defined as including being on social assistance as well? They are paid just like employees so maybe the government should get credit for this also.
Of course this is all nonsense, the land claim really just means try your best to employ the most Inuit possible and that’s it.
Both those public corporations are majority funded directly with public money. And NO don’t listen to the shell-game about the power corp being self-funded. They set outrageous rates that the GN then subsidizes with public money, that is the same as setting reasonable rates and having the GN government core-fund them.
The entire territory of Nunavut is government funded. If that is your test, NTI should be included. These corporations are distinct entities from the GN. At what point does a government funded entity not count? Can we remove teachers from the GN and put them into a education authority? How about the hospital, can we remove that from the Department of Health and make it arms-length with a CEO?
NHC and QEC are arm’s length from the GN, but they have a single shareholder being the GN itself and their capital budgets and senior management positions require Ministerial approval before hire. Their assets are GN assets.
Everyone knows the GN is the controlling shareholder in these entities but it doesn’t clarify anything. If the GN buys controlling interests in Canadian North, is the airline now subject to Article 23? If the GN privatizes QEC, is it now free from Article 23? No one knows the answer to this. Every Hamlet is a creature of the GN but they are not subject to Article 23. The GN is a creature of the Parliament of Canada through the Nunavut Act, so is it not a federal obligation to pay what it will cost their creation to meet Article 23? The entire point of the post is that the ideas about what Article 23 is meant to do and what is requires is open to debate.
The territory is 85% Inuit, but no one under 15 is working for the GN, Inuk or not.
What does “participation in government employment” even mean? Why would it not just say “government employment”? Is it suggesting the opportunity to participate in government employment, but not the outcome of being employed? Who wrote this cryptic language?
Slight increase? Umm, 10% is not slight, and is something to be applauded.
I think the average non-inuit GN employee feels like cannon fodder. There are many ethnicities represented in the GN work force. Some have put down roots here. Bought a house, had children etc. Even though this reprresentative government is a ways off, what about those people?
One of my coworkers left for another job recently. It sucked because he was really competent and approachable. But he told me that he can’t sit in a CSA position for another three years while the higher ups decide how long they’re going to wait for “the right applicant”
This whole thing – HR etc has nothing to do comptency, skill sets or experience, Its social engineering. There is no level playing field. The real problem is that word gets out to the real world and then….who is here working for the GN is made to accommodate 2 positions because nobody wants to come here or is here.
“One solution is to speed up the hiring process to ensure more people are hired, he said.”
Perfect, more Direct Appointments and less interviews. Because we’re better off hiring clueless workers than wasting time conducting interviews where the candidate will almost definitely fail. Only in Nunavut can setting workers up for failure be measured as an indicator of success.
We should be direct appointing people from their perpetual CSA’s to the permanent positions they deserve. We shouldn’t be using competent people as place holders.
This true, but as you know the government does not prioritize or even pay much attention to proven competence. It gambles, hopes for, and deludes itself that it will find passable levels of competence when replacing these undesirables, and in the end is willing to forgo quality to achieve its broader quota goals.
I have long thought that Article 23, while well intentioned, will do more harm than good to Nunavut and Nunavummiut in the long run. In fact I would argue that it is a self-inflicted handicap that has become worshiped as sacred.
The vast majority of possible employees will not, cannot and do not apply for jobs that do not come with staff housing.
That is the stark reality.
In it’s zealous obsession to fill seats with people of the preferred demographic does the GN ignore the problems bound to follow from placing under educated and under experienced people certain positions? Any of us who live this know that stories abound, but they are forbidden to speak of.
NTI will say that everyone can be trained to do everything. Don’t you know that it only takes a month or two of “training” to manage a department, perform engineering calculations, manage a multimillion dollar construction project, fix pipes, fix roads, heal patients, try cases, teach K-12, balance the books?
This is exactly the problem, HR has the power but not the knowledge to make critical decisions that it has no ability to do well, in fact its goals have nothing at all to do with getting the job done well, only filling chairs with the right people.
Part of the problem I suspect is that they project their own realities onto other departments and workplaces. So, as almost anyone can warm a chair at HR and get away with very little productive work, the assumption goes that this must be true across the board.
It would be helpful to break language use with and without Iqaluit. English dominates workplaces in the capital, while Inuktut is used more often in the communities (with exceptions of Kitikmeot, Baker and Rankin). With a larger pool of employees in Iqaluit, including non-Inuit, this would skew the overall picture. The problem/solution is not a blanket approach to all of Nunavut, but one that takes into account regional/local disparities and linguistic realities. Aside from governments, does the data includes info on Inuit orgs?
Some Inuit orgs don’t want too much attention drawn to the issue when it comes to themselves. Take a look at the staff list for, oh let’s say QIA, especially in the more technical jobs. Notice something?
Take a look at NTI’s staff list: not quite as pronounced, but look at all those vacancies in positions that require some form of technical or specialized knowledge and/or training. It’s kind of rich that NTI is so vocal that the GN magically create Inuktitut-speaking teachers when they can’t find enough people to fill their own organization. I mean, compared to teaching or government, NTI seems like it’s a dream position. And they can’t find qualified people. And many of those positions have been empty for literally years.
Kivalliq Inuit Association doesn’t list their staff on their site, so you can’t really judge.
Kitikmeot Inuit Association does, and has 35 positions: out of 35 positions, 3 are vacant and 8 are non-Inuit, so not counting the empty positions they’re at 75% Inuit staffing, which is pretty good. But again, look where those people are concentrated.
Respond to John K. Maybe your friend should have applied to QEC. 99% of Administration and Management are none Inuit.
Here is an example of the clueless thuggery HR engages in. Years ago I managed a small, essential operation for a GN Department. I won’t elaborate but unlike HR and many other Departments this particular one could never close and ran 365 days a year. I had several Philipino’s on staff and without them we would probably have not made it.
HR, however, decided that when the CSA of one of our better workers expired, they would not renew it insisting I find an Inuk to replace them. There were, after all, plenty of Inuit on the casuals list who could do the same job. When I asked who these Inuit were, they couldn’t tell me, insisting I go find them myself. Of course, there was no way a worker like this could be so easily replaced and there was no one on the casuals list even remotely qualified to do this job.
Thankfully upper levels of management saw what was going on and intervened on our behalf. Had they succeeded it may well have sunk us. So, how did it come to be that such a small coterie of unqualified HR personal could make such critical decisions on our behalf, without any background knowledge whatsoever in our profession? There is no way they should have had this kind of power.
A major overhaul of staffing is needed. Staffing practices and policies are outdated and don’t meet the current needs of the GN. There is no flexibility in this dysfunctional system that allows management any flexibility to ensure we hire the right skills that are needed to get the work done. How is that is even allowed this day in age. We have enough challenges as it is.