Nunavut birthright org commits to becoming an Inuktut-first workplace
“One of the aspirations for Nunavut was for Inuktut to remain the majority language”
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.”