Nunavut Education Act consultations all wrapped up, minister says

Joanasie says amendments could be tabled at assembly’s spring sitting

Education Minister David Joanasie said this week that he hopes to introduce amendments to the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act at the assembly’s spring sitting, which is scheduled to take place from May 28 to June 6 this year. (Photo by Beth Brown)

By Nunatsiaq News

Government of Nunavut officials have completed consultations on the Nunavut Education Act and hope to introduce amendments to the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act at the legislative assembly’s spring sitting, says Education Minister David Joanasie.

The legislative assembly’s spring sitting is scheduled to take place between May 28 and June 6 this year. The winter sitting, at which Joanasie made those remarks during a minister’s statement on Tuesday, Feb. 29, started this week.

During those consultations, which started last September, GN officials heard from more than 700 Nunavummiut, including representatives of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Coalition of Nunavut District Education Authorities, the Commission scolaire francophone du Nunavut, the Nunavut Teachers Association, the Office of the Languages Commissioner and four student groups, Joanasie said.

“My department is currently busy reviewing all of the comments, questions and written submissions, with the intention of releasing a report on the consultation’s findings in May 2019,” he said.

“Finally, I want to continue toward reaching a consensus by working with you, my fellow members, when the amendments to these key pieces of legislation are tabled during the upcoming spring 2019 sitting,” Joanasie said.

The Government of Nunavut has known since 2013 that, due to a severe shortage of Inuit-language teachers and other capacity problems, it cannot meet the bilingual education goals set out in its 2008 Education Act.

The late Michael Ferguson, then the auditor general of Canada, told the GN that in a report tabled in November of that year.

Those goals would have seen Inuktut and English used as a language of instruction all the way from kindergarten to Grade 12—by the 2019-20 school year.

That means that unless the Education Act is amended, the GN will find itself in breach of its own law.

The GN’s first attempt to amend the act fizzled in 2017 when regular MLAs refused to move a set of amendments into committee of the whole for third reading.

In the meantime, the GN will introduce an interim law in the current sitting, which began on Feb. 19, to tide them over until MLAs are able to pass permanent amendments later.

The Interim Language of Instruction Act would suspend the coming into force of certain sections of the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act with respect to Grades 4 to 12.

Those are the grades in which the GN has faced enormous difficulty over the years in extending Inuktut as a language of instruction.

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(4) Comments:

  1. Posted by Arnnaluka on

    Paul Q. put language as a priority for the Legislature and then when he was ousted, everything was reversed. Leaders talk about how important the language and in 2008 made commitments. The last 10 years just show that no one really cares. Its all good to publicly say that its important, but actions speak louder than words. There has been no action.
    Inukitiuk will eventually be like Latin. It will not be a spoken language, and very few people will know how to speak it.

  2. Posted by Inuktitut on

    The Government of Nunavut is a joke when it comes to our Inuktitut Language. Their so called test to prove Inuit can speak Inuktitut so we Inuit can receive a Bilingual Bonus is not in Inuktitut. It is a bastardized version. It has “words” that are not words in our Inuktitut Language. Our Government of Nunavut constantly uses Inuktut when referring out our Inuktitut Language, our language is Inuktitut, not Inuktut. Inuktitut is the language and Inuktut is like a person but Inuktut means different things depending on the context it is used. Too many made up words in the “Academic” Inuktitut Language. All the names of the months are made up words that have no meaning, that’s 12 right off the bat. Our Governement of Nunavut might as well desecrate on our past. It is our elders, our ancestors who continued our Language and our Government of Nunavut is just blowing off like it means nothing. Total embarrassment.

  3. Posted by Fake Plastic Trtee on

    This is what happens when your dreams and ideals are not in touch with reality. Be upset with the current government, but really it was past governments that have forced this on them (though there are few qualitative differences between the two).

    Still, we should give the current government at little credit, recently statements of ideals, see the Turaaqtavut or Ivuqtippalliajut documents, are a collection of dozens of pages without any meaning or substance. No one can sue you for that!

  4. Posted by carl jorgensen on

    I don’t think the government deserves to be blamed too severely for the lack of Inuktitut instruction. All over Canada, young people finish school and go off to college or university, and most of them do not train to be teachers. And of the few who do go into teaching, most do not choose to be language teachers: students choose to teach science, math, gym, music… And after finishing, some graduates never even begin to teach; others try teaching and decide it’s not for them. teaching can be difficult.
    Inuit students choosing careers in college are no different: most do not choose to be teachers, but instead select some other field. Of those who do train for a teaching career, not all wish to teach language. And finally, not all who graduate become or remain teachers, choosing instead to go into government or business.
    I share people’s frustration with the slow implementation of Inuktitut instruction, but so long as people have a free choice in their career, a rule passed by government won’t change much. There will always be a small percentage of people who want to teach language, so perhaps the only way forward is to continue to educate as many children as possible, knowing that at least some of them will choose to teach Inuktitut.

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