Nunavut birthright org commits to becoming an Inuktut-first workplace

“One of the aspirations for Nunavut was for Inuktut to remain the majority language”

A Nunavut flag blows in the wind in Apex. Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. marked Nunavut Day with a pledge to become an Inuktut-language workplace. (Photo by Sarah Rogers)

By Sarah Rogers

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. marked Nunavut Day with a pledge to become an Inuktut-language workplace.

NTI officials announced those plans at an event held in Kugluktuk on Wednesday, July 9.

“One of the aspirations for Nunavut was for Inuktut to remain the majority language and its use in workplaces, schools and the public,” said NTI’s vice-president James Eetoolook in a news release.

“We are leading by example and commit to being an Inuktut-first workplace.”

To launch the process, the organization has sought the guidance of elders, NTI said.

NTI said the territory’s education system is rooted too strongly in English and French and that has resulted in a decline in Inuktut.

The organization also points to different articles of the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which assert rights over self-determination and use of cultural practices.

Language assessments have been completed with NTI’s staff, the organization said. Language proficiency varies across its four offices in Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, Cambridge Bay and Ottawa.

Already, NTI said its Inuit staff have received more than 200 hours in Inuktut training over the last two years.

Next, employees will receive more focused training, based on their needs and their expertise.

That will be delivered to three different groups, based on their language skills—a core group of fluent Inuktut speakers, non-fluent speakers and beginners.

Language training will be offered by the Piruvik Centre, though NTI did not commit to any timeline.

In Nunavut’s Inuit Language Protection Act, Inuktut is already defined as a language of work in its territorial institutions; in other words, Nunavummiut have protected rights to speak or write in Inuktut in the workplace.

A Statistics Canada study released in 2017 found that almost six in 10 workers in Nunavut (59.1 per cent) reported using Inuktut at work.

The act also requires federal departments and the private sector to offer communications and services to the public in Inuktut.

But NTI said Nunavut’s language legislation hasn’t always been effective.

“We can no longer wait for governments to deliver on their promises,” said NTI president Aluki Kotierk. “We must take action.”

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(36) Comments:

  1. Posted by Wondering on

    Does this include their Cambridge Bay and Ottawa offices?

    • Posted by oh ima on

      contact NTI if you really want to know.
      P.O. Box 638 Iqaluit, NU X0A 0H0

      888-646-0006 (toll free)
      867-975-4900 (local phone)
      867-975-4949 (local fax)

  2. Posted by Morty Alooloo on

    I hope this time every non Inuktitut speaker whom are already at work places will be taught Inuktitut with determination from Nunavut Government

    • Posted by Israel MacArthur on

      Sounds good, I’d sign up in a second.

      I also hope that those in Nunavut who aren’t competent in one or the other of Canada’s official languages are also given language training.

      • Posted by nods on

        Do you ever rest?

        • Posted by Israel MacArthur on

          Probably not, on my third Timmies, so may have more to come.

  3. Posted by Silent on

    Can you please have the Inuit not treat people like crap for those Inuit who don’t speak Inuktut fluently. Ensure this is done to teach and not mock, or criticize Inuit who aren’t fluent. Because we already deal with this kn a regular basis.

    • Posted by Also Silent on

      Once again Inuit organizations are blaming others for their
      mistakes and incompetence about the pathetic state of
      As an Inuit person I do work very well in English and in Maths.
      and am very happy that way. I never made that choice, it was
      made for me by our incompetent Inuktitut language teachers.
      Get serious about it, and quit trying to blame the Canadian
      Govt. , who has been funding Inuktitut education and your
      big salaries for decades ! ! Face the truth.

  4. Posted by No Moniker on

    “Nunavut’s language legislation hasn’t always been effective…”

    Of course not, you can’t legislate goals and ideals into existence that don’t have institutional and structural capacities in place. The ground level work is what is missing. We can complain and rail on about the dominance of other languages in education, but there is no alternative system to implement. If there is to be one it needs to be created. So, who is doing that ground work?

  5. Posted by Inuinnaqtun on

    What is NTI drafting for the future of Inuinnaqtun?

    (More specifically for the June 21 weekend)

      • Posted by atii on

        Inuinnaqtun is dead unless the ones who speak make a pact together to revive it. How many bilingual Inuinnaqtun speakers read in Inuinnaqtun? Most do not, they resort to English like they do all the time in speaking. Kids are one of the strongest ways to revive – speak to babies and kids in pre-school (100% of the time), daycares and it will be revived. If you don’t do that, it is blown into the wind. For the adults who speak it, use it all the time with one another. This goes for Inuktitut too. Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun are all part of the Inuktut/Inuit language. No matter where you are.

        • Posted by TIA on

          I appreciate your honest comment, but I got kids who have
          grown up with English language.
          In Kitikmeot our leaders and language teachers are so
          useless at things they are supposed to be doing or teaching.
          All we have done is pretend to teach Inuktitut over many
          years. I don’t feel sorry at all, we got what we deserve.

  6. Posted by oh boy on

    This should be fun to follow. NTI employees who arent fluent better stay on their toes.
    -What happens if you don’t become fluent? Can they fire you?
    -Is everyone’s job description being changed to say they need to learn Inuktitut? (I bet no one has that in writting on their job description)
    -Is a non-Inuit who is fluent in Inuktitut now higher on the priority list than a non-Inuktitut speaking Inuk? (Probably not but now that you’ve created this division you have to ask the question)
    -How would the courts act if an employee who was unable to learn enough to become fluent is demoted or fired, then brings NTI to court?

    I’m all for the preservation of Inuktitut, and I can understand the rationale of going full steam ahead, but this new crop of NTI folk are so impulsive and don’t plan very well (starting with their poorly written news letter). Reality will set in very soon. Best of luck to the staff, I’m sure some of you will learn inuktitut and make the best of this risky policy.

    • Posted by Edward Stanley on

      I wonder what the inuktuk phrase is for disengenousness?

      • Posted by oh ima on

        just because you have no interest or stake in it doesn’t mean it is disengenousness, you know what is disengenousness settlers coming here thinking they know what good for Nunavut or just here for experience and salary.

        • Posted by iThink on

          Interesting point, oh ima… of course it could also be said that just because someone has no interest or stake or that a particular comment comes from a “settler” that their assessment is wrong. They could actually be bang on.

      • Posted by oh boy on

        Disingenuous towards who? The President and her cronies?

        Culture and language will flourish in Nunavut the majority of Inuit have proper places to eat, sleep and be happy. Most don’t have that now. Language is secondary when you’re barely surviving.

        Forcing half of NTI’s well paid bureaucrats to learn broken Inuktitut is nothing but political posturing by an elitist executive that have lost touch with the average Inuk. NTI has the money and connections to build more houses and open Inuktitut language schools for all Inuit, but instead they keep quiet and propose this legal nightmare of a plan so they can make it seem like they’re doing something good. Teach children to speak Inuktitut, don’t waste your money on adults.

        • Posted by oh ima on

          name who her cronies are and what they are doing!

          • Posted by Edward Stanley on

            Wrapping oneself in the cloth of ethno-statism, contrives arguments which deflect from the IQ ideals, the need to have a home or settle applies to all people or ‘Inuit’. Though my inuktuk is limited, would that preclude from being treated with respect or care equally. If there is contention it’s the mistake that property ownership defines one to have more rights than others. There is a global economy that doesn’t care which language is used, even if the gatekeepers of economic growth for the people of the territory wish to sell the notion that language misguidingly is the only way to define selfworth.

            • Posted by oh ima on

              ethno-statism Jesus Christ, she is President of NTI that represent Inuit, we do have more rights here in Nunavut than non-Inuit! She signing something that is not global it is specific to Nunavut and more specifically for benefits for Inuit in regards to heritage rivers!

              • Posted by Israel MacArthur on

                Ummm, name these ‘rights’ that you believe have created a chosen people and second-class citizens? The rest of the country would no doubt like to hear of this.Is

      • Posted by For What? on

        I wonder what the English phrase is for disengenousness. Maybe it’s disingenuous.

  7. Posted by Snow Snake on

    Why fix what isn’t broken, it’s Inuktitut not Inuktut.. We have people who speak Inuinaqtun, why does GN feel the need to dictate terminology? Is it because so many Gen X’ers find it hard to comprehend and use traditional terminology? I will continue using Inuktitut not Inuktut.

  8. Posted by Bemused on

    This should be fun. So, when NTI has to deal with non-Inuktitut speakers, as their offices do most of the time, are they going to pay for the translators?

  9. Posted by Paul Murphy on

    And where is the Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut and French versions of this announcement??

  10. Posted by Inuktitut on

    Never going to happen. NTI can’t even use the correct word, how do they expect to make their work place Inuktitut first? Inuktut is an action, Inuktitut is the language. Use the correct word. Inuktitut is our language.

  11. Posted by Millennial – Potato Potato on

    Unuukut, the Human Race is so fixated on the finer details that they fail to achieve the bigger picture. it’s okay for you to have your own opinion on how things should be said or done but it’s not okay to discourage how others say or do things. taimak. where is the support? I am all for this and you should be too. teach how you chose to. criticizing won’t help the situation. Every little bit of encouragement will make the biggest difference, in the long run, the youth can be proud of a United front team aspiring to achieve this great goal TOGETHER. Quana!! Pikpagiariit. every body love everybody.

    • Posted by Pollyanna on

      Radiant beams of light and happiness are sure to follow, if we only just believe it!

  12. Posted by Former NTI Consultant on

    I understand the concern that the current leadership of Nunavut Tunngavik has on the future of Inuktitut, but I do not believe that this initiative will accomplish anything that is meaningful.

    This is shallow virtue signalling on steroids. It will have no impact whatsoever on the survival of the Inuit languages and dialects. NTI’s executive is pouring significant resources into an in–house program that will benefit very few people.

    It benefits NTI employees only and this program does absolutely nothing for the thousands of people who could benefit from some instruction in Inuktitut. NTI has resources that it could use for this purpose, millions of dollars of subsurface mining royalties and its large training fund, but it has chosen not to use these funds to help beneficiaries improve their language skills.

    Instead of helping beneficiaries, they are helping their own staff. Shame on them.However, no one should worry about this in-house Inuktitut program having any impact on NTI’s productivity or efficiency.

    This is because much of the important work at NTI, such as policy, communications, research, logistics, speech-writing, is already done by consultants like myself who are based in and around the Ottawa and Montreal areas primarily.

    There is a small army of non-Inuit people like me, based in the south, who provide basic support to NTI through contract work primarily and this is not going to change.

    • Posted by Edward Stanley on


  13. Posted by Too inward looking on

    If NTI really wants to make a difference, it should create housing for Inuit (loans, mortgages, rent-to-own, staff housing, etc).

    • Posted by James Rondockett on

      NTI funded loans for home ownership (with adjusted lending requirements to account for the special circumstances of home ownership in the North) is a fantastic idea. Effectively puts the Nunavut Trust to work, which is NTI’s mandate, while championing a solution to a serious need for more housing. In this case, non-payment would essentially be Inuit ripping off other Inuit; which closes the gap on being able to play the Southern blame game. Although, I’m sure arguments would be made that the majority of funds would be going to Southern owned construction companies.

      Second thought, have an NTI housing fund deal exclusively with Inuit owned construction companies. Then sit back and watch the entire system implode after budgets, timelines and deficiencies get out of control.

  14. Posted by angut on

    ᖁᕕᐊᓱᒃᐳᖓ ᐊᒃᓱᒻᒪᕆᐊᓗ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᕗᑦ ᓯᕗᓪᓕᐅᔭᐅᓕᕐᒪᑦ ᐃᖃᓇᐃᔭᕐᕕᖕᓂ. ᐱᓗᐊᑐᒥᒃᓕ ᐃᓄᑐᖃᐃᑦ ᐊᑲᕆᔮᓂᕐᓴᐅᓂᐊᓕᕐᒪᑕ ᑐᑭᓯᒋᐊᕈᒪᒑᖓᒥ ᑐᑭᓯᔪᒪᔭᒥᖕᓂᒃ. ᐊᒻᒪᓗᑕᐅ ᐅᕙᒍᑦ ᐃᓅᔪᒍᑦ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᕗᑦ ᐊᑐᕐᓗᒍ ᐃᖃᓇᐃᔭᕐᕕᑦᑎᓐᓂ ᐃᖃᓇᐃᔭᖃᑦᑕᓂᐊᓕᕋᑦᑕ. ᐅᓇ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᕆᔪᒪᑲᓐᓂᖅᑕᕋ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᑐᓴᖅᑕᐅᑎᐊᓗᓂ, ᐃᖃᓇᐃᔭᑎᓪᓗᖓ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᑕᐃᒎᓯᓕᐅᑎᒃᑯᓐᓂᒃ ᑯᐸᐃᒥᐅᑦ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᓕᕆᔨᖁᑎᖏᓐᓄᑦ ᑲᑎᒪᔭᑐᓚᐅᓯᒪᖓᑦᑕ ᑲᑎᒪᓪᓗᑕ ᑐᓵᔨᖃᕆᐊᖃᓚᐅᓯᒪᔪᒍᑦ ᖃᓪᓗᓇᑎᑐᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐅᐃᕖᑎᑐᑦ, ᑕᑯᐊ ᑯᐸᐃᒥᐅᑦ ᒐᕙᒪᖏᑦ ᐱᖁᔭᖃᕐᒪᑕ ᐅᐃᕖᑎᑐ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᖅ ᐊᑐᖅᑕᐅᓗᓂ. ᐃᖃᓇᐃᔭᖅᑎᖏᑦ ᐅᐃᕖᑦ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᖏᓐᓄᑦ ᒪᓕᖓᒥᓂᒃ ᒪᓕᑦᑎᐊᓗᐊᓂᑯᒧᑦ ᐃᖃᓇᐃᔭᑏᑦ ᐃᖃᓇᐃᔭᕐᕕᒃᒥᓂ ᐅᐃᕖᑎᑐ ᐅᖃᓪᓚᒃᓗᑎ ᕿᓯᐊᓂ ᐃᖃᓇᐃᔭᕐᕕᒃᒥᓂ. ᑲᓪᓗᓈᑎᑑᕈᓐᓇᕋᓗᐊᖢᑎᒃ ᑐᓴᔨᖃᑎᐊᖃᓚᐅᓯᒪᔪᒍᑦ. ᐊᓕᓇᐃᒋᕙᕋ ᐊᓗᑭ ᑰᑎᖅ ᑕᒪᑐᒥᖅ ᐊᔭᐅᕆᓕᕐᒪᑦ.

  15. Posted by Taima on

    Perhaps the GN should put its language implementation plans on hold until NTI has done this. Then the GN could sub-contract the management of its own language implementation to NTI.

  16. Posted by MONICA A CONNOLLY on

    So much negativity! This is a long overdue move, and more power to NTI! And GN should be doing it, too. AND for non-Inuit as well as Inuit.
    Anglophones often have an inaccurate view that learning a second language is difficult. Unless you have a learning disability, it’s not. As a high school student, it took me four courses to learn to read (unsimplified) French literature, and write the language accurately, in an environment where there was absolutely no French outside of class. If fluent Inuktitut speakers were to encourage beginners, Inuktitut would be far stronger in half a dozen years.

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