Nunavut MP opposes federal Indigenous languages bill

“Hopefully in a different version at third reading … I will be able to support it”

Nunavut’s MP, Hunter Tootoo, voted against the second reading of Bill C-91, a proposed Indigenous languages law, on Wednesday, Feb. 20. (File photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

Nunavut’s Hunter Tootoo was the sole MP to vote against the second reading of Bill C-91, a proposed Indigenous languages law on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

During the lead-up to the vote, the Independent MP told the House of Commons that he supports the concept of the bill, but “in its current form, I do not believe I can support it.”

The proposed law has won the praise of the Assembly of First Nations and the Métis Nation. But it has received heavy criticism from Inuit groups, who had hoped to see a section of the law dedicated to supporting Inuktut.

Tootoo gave a nod to criticism of the bill levelled by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which predicts that one of the bill’s hallmark features, the creation of a national Indigenous languages commissioner’s office, “will be a powerless advocacy body, perpetually burdened by costly and onerous reporting duties,” that will do little to curb the decline of Indigenous languages in Canada.

“I am an Inuk and I have lost my language,” said Tootoo. “I have lost what I am very proud to see in Nunavut right now. People are showing an interest in learning and regaining their languages.”

Tootoo served as an MLA in Nunavut during the passage of the territory’s Education Act and Inuit Language Protection Act. Those laws set ambitious targets to create a fully bilingual education system from kindergarten to Grade 12 by the 2019-20 school year.

Those ambitions remain far from being met, and Nunavut’s MLAs are currently preparing to amend parts of these laws, to avoid the government being in breach of its own legislation.

“I was very proud to pass those pieces of legislation in 2008,” said Tootoo, who called for the federal Indigenous languages bill to provide the Nunavut government “with resources and funding so it can develop and deliver a bilingual education.”

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has committed to working with ITK to resolve their concerns about the Indigenous languages bill.

“I look forward to working with him and with ITK to bring amendments forward,” said Tootoo. “Hopefully in a different version at third reading, after committee, I will be able to support it.”

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(12) Comments:

  1. Posted by Opportunity Knocks on

    Hunter, trying to score some street cred by reading the zeitgeist in Nunavut.

  2. Posted by David on

    “Hopefully in a different version at third reading … I will be able to support it”
    Seeing how there are 338 MPs who could have voted, and Hunter is the only “nay” vote in the bunch. Something tells me you won’t be seeing any changes for 3rd reading.

  3. Posted by Who cares? on

    As if anybody cares what this guy votes for we all know right from the day he became an independent we were not being represented for him being a MP for the north was not for us it was for himself just to prove that he will not run in the next federal election.
    What a waste of 4 years for the north!

    • Posted by Who is at fault ? on

      Hunter did not become an M.P. by magic !!
      A lot of Inuit voted for him.
      Send in the clowns.

      • Posted by Who cares? on

        The population in the north is high enough now that none Inuit can vote in a candidate like Hunter and George Hicks is a fine example and both of them speak maybe 10 words of Inuktitut or less and you think Inuit got them in there not even!

  4. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    I’m just relieved to know that Hunter is alive and well, and apparently hasn’t forgotten how to find the House of Commons.

  5. Posted by Crystal Clarituy on

    Over a month ago Natan Obed, president of ITK, balked at the Bill because it had no Inuit specific content. Hunter is simply riding on that coat tail because it is the politically correct thing to do but it carries little weight if he is the only dissenting vote.

  6. Posted by not buying on

    Hunter has collected $172000 a year to sit on a back bench and charge back the multiple costs to visit communities to say hello. The only thing he may have achieved in three years was to pull his zipper back up. The only voice he had was to pat himself on the back. And I would bet Inuit languages was left out because of the scandal and embarrassment he caused the government

    • Posted by Clarity on

      Totally agree with you another one voted in for nice hair and nothing between the ears. Hes done absolutely nothing in 3 years and did nothing as an MLA either…if Inuit want representation at the big table you better vote for someone that can keep his pants zipped and is not afraid of hard work as that is going to be what it takes. Hunter asks one question every 3 months as an independent definately not earning his wage

  7. Posted by There’s still time to write that resignation letter on

    You mean Mr. Hunter Tootoo hasn’t resigned yet? Come on Hunter, you still have time to write that letter of resignation.

    Just sit yourself down and do it, then print it off, sign it and send it to the speaker of the house.

    It’s time to get’er done, boy. Resign. After what you did it is the only choice you have.

  8. Posted by Tommy on

    Was that Hunter Tootoo speaking back there? I can hardly hear him. What is he saying?

  9. Posted by Irrelevance has poken on

    A pointless gesture by a pointless politician.

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