Op-ed: Nunavut education minister responds to languages commissioner’s criticisms
“This implementation plan is realistic and ambitious, with the goal of graduating bilingual students,” David Joanasie says
In response to your Dec. 19 article, “Nunavut’s language commissioner worries Inuit language will decline under Bill 25,” I would like to address misconceptions in the article about the new Education Act and respond to the questions raised by the languages commissioner.
Inuktut instruction is already taking place in schools based on current language of instruction models. The new Education Act requires the Department of Education to implement Inuktut language instruction in a staggered approach from now until 2039. This approach ensures that made-in-Nunavut curriculum, assessments, resources, and training are in place to support Inuktut instruction.
This implementation plan is realistic and ambitious, with the goal of graduating bilingual students. The portion of the act concerning bilingual education focuses on Inuit Language Arts for first and second language learners because it is an effective way to encourage language retention in our schools, support the language of instruction models, and prevent further language loss.
The increased annual reporting requirements of the minister ensures transparency and accountability to the public on the progress of these efforts. If the minister can implement any part of this plan sooner than the listed deadline, the act requires him to do so.
The Department of Education conducted a comprehensive review of the Education Act including reviewing best practices across Canada and holding consultations in all 25 Nunavut communities. The Coalition of Nunavut DEAs (CNDEA), Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI), and other key education partners were also consulted.
Bill 25 was also reviewed by the Standing Committee on Legislation in November 2019, the first ever public hearing of a bill by the committee. The department carefully considered the input provided throughout the hearing and worked to find a balance between the various perspectives that were raised.
All government departments must follow the Government of Nunavut’s designated legislative process for amending legislation, including bringing it before the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut. These processes ensure that government departments cannot unilaterally make changes to legislation.
Finally, the department has begun implementing the changes brought about by the act. This includes updating and developing regulations in areas such as inclusive education and language of instruction, and developing the required policies, guidelines, and handbooks to support staff.
The department will be engaging NTI, the CNDEA, and other education partners in the development of the new or changed regulations.
In five years, members of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut will have the opportunity to review this legislation.
I look forward to working together with Nunavummiut on the implementation of the
You can find a more detailed response here.
Minister of Education