Nunavut MLAs unanimously pass Bill 25

Nunavut’s MLAs voted unanimously on Thursday, Nov. 5, to pass Bill 25, the Act to Amend the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act. The bill sets 2039 as the new deadline for extending the use of Inuktut as a language of instruction across the school curriculum from kindergarten to Grade 12. The step-by-step implementation schedule starts in 2026. Education Minister David Joanasie said the bill is an evolving document that is meant to be amended as it’s implemented. Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., which has long called on the Nunavut government to make greater efforts to teach students in Inuktut, said in a news release that the bill’s passage means the government “chose to join the long history of colonial destruction of Inuit language and culture.” See our story later at (Photo by Meagan Deuling)

By Meagan Deuling
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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(38) Comments:

  1. Posted by Linguist on

    Historically it takes one generation to lose a language and we seem to be in the process of losing our language with the lack of commitment and work by our government.

    Shameful and this is not the spirit of Nunavut that we fought for all those years.

    This is not the government that we envisioned, this is not the government that we worked hard to get.

    Since Nunavut was created more than 20 years ago our government has worked hard not to have Inuktitut.

    Extremely disappointed in our Government today.

    • Posted by Inuktut language genocide on

      It’s hard enough, the capital and regional centres, you don’t hear Inuktitut spoken in public, now creating another generation to implement a weakening language. Our own government committing a language genocide. I hope you are all proud. Resign now, to bad Inuit cannot oust all the MLA through vote of non-confidence!

    • Posted by Tau on

      Premier is part of the problem. When Quassa was premier he was going to implement stronger Inuit language use within government.

      • Posted by Echo Chamber on

        Quassa’s ideas were as poorly thought out as most of the comments here, and would never have worked. The idea that the government can legislate a language back into prominence is a simplistic fiction, Right now the government is avoiding lawsuits, but kicking the can 20 years down the road is not likely to help unless there is a plan to revive Inuktitut too. Is there?

        • Posted by HELLOOO Hellooo hellooo on

          You got a better idea? If not you’re part of the problem. Quassa’s ideas didn’t have a chance to be implemented, I think they would’ve worked. I can do my job in Inuttitut, so can you.
          That goes for everyone. We know what the complaints are. Got nothing but complaints? Then you’re part of the problem. Don’t know Inuttitut or Inuinnaqtun? Then you’ve got a great chance to help keep our language alive. Learn it bit by bit everyday, you’ll be cruising in no time. Think you’re too old to learn? There’s Inuit elders with an awesome grasp of English just from reading English and Inuttitut translations of the bible.

          • Posted by Echo Chamber on

            Do I have a better idea? Sure, I strongly believe I could come up with some better ideas. But I don’t control the purse strings or set policy; and in the end, even a better idea might not work. Still, what I can see is that the commitment to language preservation at present is low. Leaving Bill 25 in place would do nothing to change that, but would only create liabilities.
            As for Quassa, the idea that the entire GN can be made to operate in Inuktitut is a distraction and a fantasy, neither of which you can afford to waste your time or resources on.

          • Posted by Quassa’s Act on

            I love the Quassa supporters here who seem to have so quickly forgotten that his Education Act Bill, Bill 37 of the last assembly, was to postpone bilingual education from grades 4-9 to 2029 and to postpone bilingual education up to grade 12 indefinitely.
            He came out swinging with big words when he became Premier, but he didn’t actually have a plan. He wanted all unilingual English speaking GN employees to get language training to become fluent in Inuktut, but he had absolutely no plan on how he would accomplish that. There are not nearly enough Inuktut language educators around. In addition to that, when the federal government sends unilingual speakers to become fluent in another language, they send them to classes full-time for an entire year, with full salary, to become fluent. The GN wouldn’t be able to function if it did that, let alone be able to afford it. Quassa had no clue.

            • Posted by MONICA A CONNOLLY on

              Paul Quassa wanted to give workers four years to be able to work in Inuktitut.
              When I was a kid in high school, it took me four school years at about 35 min. a day, with no support out of class, to learn French well enough to read literature from the French section of the public library. If I had been surrounded by French all school day, I would have learned a lot faster.
              Paul did not reveal a detailed plan, but there was nothing academically unrealistic in the basic idea. We can learn another language much more easily than a lot of anglophones think.
              Look at the number of monolingual Inuit with no formal education at all who nonetheless worked as tradesmen and tradesmen’s assistants and kept the place going in the 70s -in English.

              • Posted by To Monica on

                Monica, you totally ignored my point that there is no capacity in the territory to teach that many people Inuktut, even if spread over 4 years.
                Kids in southern provinces today I believe usually begin learning French at Grade 4 up to Grade 9, around 50 minutes a day, while 10-12 is optional. There are very, very few high school graduates from those English speaking provinces that are able to read French literature, even the ones that take it up until Grade 12. That’s notwithstanding the fact that English and French use the same alphabet, and reading comprehension is only one part of knowing a language, you also need to know how to right it and how to converse in it.
                Let’s also not forget that the ability to learn a new language is strongest until the age of 18 after which there is a precipitous decline. So your “high school days” don’t exactly apply to a 50 year old Policy Analyst, for example.
                There is definitely something academically unrealistic about your claim that there was nothing academically unrealistic about Quassa’s plan, as your anecdote is not evidence.

            • Posted by Party on Wayne on

              Well aren’t you two a bunch of party poopers, predictable gloomy forecast and all, nary a solution to the problem of course. A better idea might not work? It isn’t a better idea then.
              Then GN can be made to operate in Inuktun, countless Inuit workers an attest to that. Countless societies working in their own language are an example.
              Quassa’s ideas could’ve worked. Of course there would be mistakes, nobody’s perfect, but that’s one of the best ways to learn, from your mistakes.

              • Posted by Dead Horse on

                There are a lot of problems with Qassa’s poorly hatched ideas about language in the workplace, i’ll skip the exhaustive list that has been gone over enough times and get to the crux of it by noting that it would be illegal.

              • Posted by Garth on

                For the record the above was supposed to be a reply to Echo Chamber and Quassa’s Act.

  2. Posted by Raven on

    Best luck to David, 2040 will be here quick, but hopefully not quicker than everyone learning the simple inuktitut alphabet.

    To mark this historic moment here is a video to enjoy:

  3. Posted by Crystal Clarity on

    Such an incredibly dumb move. You are basically telling all education institutions across Nunavut not to bother with Inuktitut anymore. No schools will care about implementing a plan for Inuktitut because the current staffs probably won’t be there in 2040 and won’t have to answer for it.,Historically though, this Assembly will be remembered as the one that threw Inuktitut on the dust heap. Congratulations!

    • Posted by Ignore Us Some More, That’ll Be Fun on

      Inuktitut, Inuktitut, Inuktitut. I’m so so tired of hearing that continually from Baffiners.

      What about the Inuit language that is the one that is truly endangered? How come no one never talks about Inuinnaqtun? Why the constant focus on that part of the territory?

      The Baffin/Inuktitut-centric comments in these pages are very disheartening. Inuktitut is in no danger, particularly as a spoken language, but Inuinnaqtun is clearly in crisis.

      We’d be better of leaving and joining the NWT – our language would be more respected and we couldn’t be any more ignored than we are by the Baffiners.

      • Posted by Raven on

        And how about your neighbors east of Kug and Cambridge on the mainland who also speak Inuktitut?

      • Posted by Crystal Clarity on

        Sorry about that. I should have said Inuktut which includes all the languages used by Inuit.

        • Posted by Raven on

          Inuktut, like inuinaqtun

  4. Posted by Left out Inuk on

    Tunnganainglaa Gavamavut (Our Government is the most inhospitable to us)

  5. Posted by Won’t save anything on

    I know most nunavummiut have an irrational hatred of Quebecois that is only rivaled by Alberta, but if you take off your hate-goggles for a minute and look at how they preserved their language, you’ll see that they achieved that by NOT cozying up to English. How the hell are kids going to become fluent in Inuktitut when they’re permitted to speak English in school? It’s the most accessible, cool, convenient language in the western world.
    All these people losing their minds over bill 25, but are A-OK with using English as a crutch in an Inuktitut-curriculum school will soon realize (or not soon) that it’s a waste of time. You have to cut English out of the equation. Or go ahead and keep complaining about French and see where that takes you.

    • Posted by We’re not all haters on

      We’re not all Quebeqois haters. If anything, Quebec’s Bill 101 was a model bill to protect, preserve and promote the French language. Every jurisdiction in the world should look at the Quebec model to preserve language; Bill 101 enhanced the French language through media (TV, radio), schools, daycares, notices and signs, courts, the legislature, government services etc. In essence, Rene Levesque was unwavering in his political will to protect French, and was ingenious to encompass that protection in every aspect of a Quebequois’ life. What did we do in Nunavut? We let non-Indigenous GN staff erode our version of Bill 101; the Inuit Language Protection Act.

      • Posted by Won’t save anything on

        And I 100% respect your opinion on the matter. I wish more people here could stop looking at Quebec as an obstacle to Inuktitut language education and more as a model.
        Sadly, folks at NTI can’t grasp that. They see the French school as a competitor instead of a potential ally. Looks at what one of NTI’s lawyers is spewing on twitter. They’ve shifted the Bill 37/25 narrative as a fight against francophones. It just makes them look like populists who say what their angry base wants to hear.

        • Posted by Equal Treatment on

          I’m not into Twitter so I wouldn’t know. But I would think the argument is that Inuktut should have the same equal status of protection as the French language. I wouldn’t necessarily guage it as hating Quebecois. There are many Inuit who are also fluent Inuktut and French speakers, but they are supported more because their equivalent school boards have the higher authority on hiring and curriculum, and immersion of French in schools. In other schools, English dominates every class beyond grade 3 because their DEAs have no real authority on hiring and curriculum. By the way, in Quebec, Inuktut language is stronger in Nunavik because the Quebeqois understand the importance of protecting, preserving and promoting language. So I would say the anger is not at Quebeqois but the government system that is predominantly ignorant of language and culture.

      • Posted by Jay Arnakak on

        I’m an admirer of Lévesque, and I’m sure we can learn a lot from the various North American French experience (things to avoid, things to emulate), but his political philosophy on language was not Bill 101.

        He wanted to link economic interest with the use of French (not from a social-political beach head) and was rather more accommodating and tolerant of ‘minority’ rights than thought of or assumed to be.

        We have much mineral and other resources in Nunavut but our IIBAs seem to steer clear of striking provisions for the use of Inuktut (Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun) as part of these agreements that are ostensibly there to benefit Inuit.

        That’s the first concrete step we as Inuit could take.

    • Posted by Quebecois on

      I think Louisiana is the perfect example of how quickly a minority language can die. The Louisiana government decided to stop funding any language preservation efforts, so that if you wanted your kids to learn French, you had to send them to a private school.
      Fifty years ago, they had over 1 million native french speakers in the state. Now, that number is maybe 50,000; and likely soon to be zero.

      • Posted by Won’t save anything on

        There are a lot of similarities with the cajuns…and warning signs. The government of Louisiana made it illegal to speak cajun french, which killed off the language much faster than it would have naturally. Sort of similar to what happened in residential schools.
        I’d say the biggest warning Louisiana can show us is that their massive French immersion program in schools doesn’t really work. Kids are learning basic french but it’s just a token language that no one actually uses at home. Everyone speaks English. And the French they learn is taught by peopke from French speaking countries, and the dialect is far removed from their cajun dialect. So kids that actually learn it can’t converse with elders who still speak it.
        That’s what will happen if bilingual schools continue in Nunavut. Even if we could magically hire a full Inuktitut speaking staff, until you remove English from the equation, Inuktitut will slowly die off. It might be kept alive for political reasons, but it won’t mean anything culturally.
        I understand the urgency that NTI & friends are feeling, but their ideas to fix the problem will produce a similar result. Maybe the passing of bill 25 will be a blessing in disguise and will make them think outside the box in order to come up with a better plan. Getting rid of the chip on their shoulder and meeting with the french school would be a great first step, but that’s a lot to ask of them.

  6. Posted by Consistency on

    Is this also the Bill that removes the power DEA’s have? Not that Dept of Ed ever listened or cared what the DEA’s said.

  7. Posted by Ms M on

    It is sad to see that the Department of Education would even consider such an extension. Take a lesson from Quebec and how they were able to keep their language alive in the schools regardless of the English speaking population at the time. Nunavut’s existence is based on Inuit values and culture. Language is culture and culture is language. It is the backbone of a people and its keeps them strong. Our founders of Nunavut must be disappointed! Nunavut is because of the struggles and it is the shoulders of the ancestors that our MLAs stand on. Keep your language alive! Some people do not have a language as it was forbidden by colonial powers. Value the speakers you do have and recognize the possibilities of a strong Inuktitut population Now not 20 years from now. Quassa was on the right path!

  8. Posted by Inuktut on

    Been more than 20 years for the GN to prepare for Inuktut but they dragged their feet, now another 20 years has been added on and I am confident not a whole lot will be done again.

    Again we have our close neighbours that speak, write and use Inuktut in the government, schools at all levels, in public, daycares, hospitals, airlines, pretty much everywhere.
    It works so well with our close neighbours and their language is flourishing unlike here in Nunavut, where its dying a slow death. Can we ask how it is possible for them to have their language used in schools, government and in all communities?

    How is it that it works so well over there but not over here?

    Same root language that is being used by all ages, we can learn from our neighbours to the east. We need more contact with them and incorporate their way of doing things and getting this to work and getting this done the right way.

    • Posted by Look At Home, Not Abroad on

      You’ll find very quickly I think that Greenland is far more European than you realize. Far far more The systems, funding, and education systems are very different. Spend some time there and you’ll be struck how different it is from Canada’s north, it is much more like the European north. This shouldn’t be surprising.

      Trying to square that circle will be incredibly challenging.

      Look for homegrown solutions, not more foreign ways.

      • Posted by Inuit nunanga on

        It’s funny you think of Greenland being foreign when it’s a part of Inuit land. Yes their colonizer are Danish and for them it’s very different here too in Nunavut, very North American, that may be the problem, too North American as everyone in Canada and US just expects you to speak English.
        In Greenland their language is flourishing, being used in Government, schools, everywhere, unlike here in Nunavut, same root language Inuktut flourishing, image that, so there is some there that we can definitely learn from.

        It’s funny we always look past their success in Greenland without really looking at how they do it and brush it off as we can’t do the same here because it’s too different.

        There is something there we can learn from and use in Nunavut, not the true foreign methods used in southern Canada.

  9. Posted by Edward W Stanley on

    Good to see the government of inuit for inuit screwing inuit. This is a severe breach of the mandate of the establishment and maintanence of inuit language. They literally are doing the exact opposite of their requirements. Might as well dissolve and have governence be handled by those who wish to do their job. I expect the government to be sued out of existence soon enough from this. Maybe is it intentional.

  10. Posted by The people have spoken on

    An Inuit government, elected by an 85% inuit population, has spoken. This is self-governance. Learn to live with your choices and vote accordingly. English is the language of business in the civilized world and Nunavut needs people capable of passing high school English to work in government before it needs to worry about Inuktitut.

    • Posted by This Confusion Is Common on

      Some confusion here it seems, in no way is it an”…Inuit government”. In fact, the idea of an “Inuit government’ was most emphatically rejected during the talks leading to the formation of Nunavut.

      Yes, Inuit make up 83% of Nunavut’s population, the government is Inuit-majority, but it is not only an Inuit government.

  11. Posted by Language Possible on

    It’s been suggested we look at Greenland and Louisianna.
    Look at Cuba, too.
    Cuba has stood up to the USA for 50 years because it has allies all over the world.
    It got and keeps those allies by providing free medical school education to more than 1000 people from around the world. Yes, if they accept you, you have to get to Cuba. They cover all costs once you get there. They ask 2 things.

    1. When you graduate you should go back home and practice medicine in an under-serviced area.
    2. If you don’t speak Spanish, come 3 months early. Cuba runs a Spanish language school for those students. In 3 months the students learn Spanish well enough to study medicine in Spanish.
    Maybe Nuavut could learn something from Cuba.

    • Posted by Jacobo Timerman on

      The program you refer to is offered through Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina and the main campus is located in the Playa district of western Havana and they train far more than 1,000 international students. It’s close to 15,000 at any one time. So that part is true.

      It is free to some students, but for many other students their tuition is paid by their governments. This provides essential hard currency to the economically incompetent Cuban dictatorship. Their highly centralized command economy has never been able to build a society capable of meeting the basic human needs of the population.

      The purpose of the program, of course, is propaganda. It is a mystification that conceals the reality of Cuba’s autocratic one-party military dictatorship, a government that maintains power through the use of fear, disinformation, constant state surveillance, arbitrary imprisonment and rigged trials for political dissidents.

      Those “allies” by the way, were primarily the allies and client states of the Soviet Union, who subsidized Cuba for many years. After the Soviet Union’s socialist economy collapsed, Cuba’s economy collapsed also and they have been in a desperate state ever since.

      Cuba’s Marxist-Leninist police-state oppression extends to doctors who get out of line and criticize the Cuban government. One doctor was sent to jail for 13 years for criticizing the Cuban government’s incompetent handling of a disease epidemic.

      Your post, of course, is completely irrelevant to the article about Bill 25. Also, I highly doubt that Nunavut has anything learn from Cuba other than a reminder that Marxist-Leninism is an abject failure and is to be avoided. I could not resist showing you how wrong you are.

    • Posted by Carrot, Not Stick on

      Other provinces have tried the requirement that graduates return to province ABC after graduation.

      Keeps falling awry of the Charter, can’t require graduates to return. So, if you want Nunavut’s grads to stay in the territory and stop the brain drain, it will require a carrot, not a stick.

  12. Posted by Uvanga on

    We have 25 communities which require many many inuktut speaking teachers. Where are they? We dont have a standardized language because too many communities are protective of their dialect. You cant expect a government to please every dialect therefore the government or the language authority needs to make some serious decisions in order for the Inuit language to survive. Perhaps we need to colonize Nunavut and start some serious language training through residential schools where the primary language is inuktut. It worked for English so it may work for inuktut. The only way to mobalize the Inuit language is to have inuit passionate about their language again. We need inspirators to inspire us to learn our mother tongue again. It can happen only if an organization such as pirurvik and the college could do huge motivational drives through the communities. We need the human resources Inuit or not as long as they have expertise in inuktut. We need help from linguist which we dont have many of in Nunavut.

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