Nunavut’s education system “constitutes cultural genocide,” says Inuit org

European scholars say territory’s school system may be “criminally inadequate”

This graph, contained in a recent Statistics Canada report on language use in Nunavut, shows that Inuktut is increasing as a “secondary” language at home in Nunavut and is decreasing as a “main” language.

By Jim Bell

Relying on ideas contained in a report they commissioned last September from three European academics, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. declared today that the Government of Nunavut’s education system may be “criminally inadequate” and “constitutes cultural genocide.”

“Education in Nunavut has a history of cultural genocide, linguicide, econocide and historicide, and this continues today,” Aluki Kotierk, the president of NTI, said in a statement released on Monday, April 22.

“Inuit children receive the majority of their education in the dominant languages instead of their mother tongue. This constitutes cultural genocide,” she said.

The report was done for NTI by Robert Dunbar, a professor at the University of Edinburgh, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, an associate professor at Åbo Akademi University in Finland, and Robert Phillipson, a professor at the Copenhagen Business School.

Kotierk, who is visiting New York City today, will present the report to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, NTI said in a news release.

In the report, titled “Is Nunavut education criminally inadequate?” the three European authors allege that, within the Nunavut educational system, Canada is violating many international legal instruments, as well as Canadian laws.

They also say Nunavut’s poor record in Inuit language education is related to many harms, including “econocide” (making people poor); “historicide” (exclusion from history); “ecocide” (killing the environment) and “linguicide” (killing a language.)

To help make their case, they cite the absence of Inuit-language instruction beyond Grade 3 in most Nunavut schools.

They also point to statistics showing that many Inuit in Nunavut are underemployed and suffer from poorer socio-economic conditions than non-Inuit.

And they suggest that’s because of Nunavut’s English-dominated school system.

“If the education system has been insensitive to local needs, and is mainly conducted through the medium of English, it is arguable that Inuit are pushed out rather than drop out. They opt out of what is seen as irrelevant education,” the report says.

As for the English language, the report says that it’s a “fraudulent myth” that English should be taught as a universal medium for communication.

“English is promoted as though it is the only language you need in international affairs, an argument that falsely makes other languages invisible.”

“This pernicious myth is energetically promoted in the U.K. and U.S.A., and has probably been internalised in all parts of Canada, including in Nunavut, with the exception of Québec, which, as a province in Canada, has rejected the myth,” the report says.

The report also says that Canada is a product of imperialism by both the French and the British, and that the constitutional concept of two founding nations is “a racist myth.”

And due to various breaches of international law, the Canadian state is practising linguistic and cultural genocide in Nunavut, the report alleges.

“[S]een from an educational and psychological point of view, and from the social consequences of current practices, there is prima facie evidence of education in Nunavut being involved in processes and practices of linguistic and cultural genocide,” the report says in its concluding section.

The report says that the international legal instruments that are violated by the Nunavut education system include:

• The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
• The International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination
• The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
• The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The report also analyzes existing laws in Nunavut and Canada that are relevant to language and education and, after a lengthy discussion, the report—unsurprisingly—finds the GN is in breach of the 2008 Nunavut Education Act.

“As we have detailed in other sections of this report, it is our strongly held view that the system at present is failing comprehensively in supporting the use, development and particularly the revitalization of the Inuit Language and that therefore the Education Act, 2008 is being breached,” the report says.

And they also say that the Nunavut legislative assembly’s Interim Language of Instruction Act, passed this past March, represents an “an abject admission of failure on the part of the Nunavut authorities in respect of the obligations which they imposed upon themselves in 2008.”

Nunavut MLAs passed that law to give the GN time to develop amendments to the Education Act that are expected to be introduced at the legislative assembly’s spring sitting.

The interim language of instruction law suspends the application of the Inuit Language Protection Act to Nunavut’s school system—and means that while the interim law is in effect, the GN is not legally required to use the Inuit language as a language of instruction beyond Grade 3.

This graphic shows the small proportion of Inuit teachers and principals working in Nunavut schools, compared with the much large number of non-Inuit teachers. (Source: “Is Nunavut education criminally inadequate?”)

That’s mainly because the GN can’t find enough qualified Inuit-language teachers to offer Inuit-language instruction beyond Grade 3 in most schools.

On the widely acknowledged shortage of Inuit-language teachers in Nunavut, the report suggests this is because the federal government doesn’t spend enough money on Inuktitut education.

“Appropriate funding for Inuktitut-medium education has never been allocated in the same way as it is met for other Canadian children. The federal government must meet this need,” the report says.

However, the report does not directly criticize the Government of Nunavut.

At a language conference in Iqaluit held at the end of March, a Statistics Canada report presented to delegates found that, overall in Nunavut, transmission rates of Inuktut as a mother tongue to Inuit children up to 14 years of age are falling

In 2016, fewer than seven in 10 Inuit children up to the age of four years spoke Inuktut as their mother tongue, down from eight in 10 children in 2001.

And knowledge of Inuktut among Inuit up to the age of 34 was much lower in the western Kitikmeot region than elsewhere in Nunavut in 2016.

The report also found that transmission rates for Inuktut in linguistically mixed families is low,

Only about three in 10 children of linguistically mixed couples in Nunavut speak Inuktut as a mother tongue, the StatCan report found.

Nunavut Linguicide Report by on Scribd

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(67) Comments:

  1. Posted by Interesting on

    I find it fascinating that the three scholars claim it’s a “fraudulent myth” English isn’t necessary to know to function internationally.

    I’d lay good odds the gentleman from Scotland doesn’t only speak Gaelic. Statistics show 63% of Finns can speak enough English to hold a conversation. And 68% of Danes speak English as a second language.

    • Posted by brighterfuture on

      The Scottish gentleman is actually a Canadian lawyer with Gaelic roots which he began to take an interest in during his university education. The Copenhagen U academic has a bee in his bonnet against the English language subsuming traditional languages and has written extensively on this topic. Likely chosen by NTI for his extreme viewpoint. You could find all sorts of academics to support any cause you want if you look hard enough.

  2. Posted by Communication on

    So if it’s “criminally inadequate”, who are the criminals? Despite huge unemployment in Nunavut, inuktitut speakers do not become teachers in large enough numbers to staff the schools. It’s the one subject area that inuit had existing advanced skills in when they moved off the land, yet “colonialism” is blamed for its loss. If people wanted to be speaking Inuktitut, they’d be speaking it. Languages are primarily for communication however, and modern life is expressed better in english. It might not be fair, but it’s reality. The huge bright side is that inuit can now speak the language that is used most often as a second language around the globe. It’s a pretty big win.

    • Posted by Not quite on

      It’s well known that the government intentionally suppressed aboriginal languages back in the day; that’s no secret and it’s unfair to imply Inuit were at fault for not teaching the language, not when you had children beaten in residential schools for speaking their language.

      That said, that’s how we got to the situation we’re in. The problem is, how do you move forward?

      • Posted by Communication on

        That’s activist rhetoric. Inuktitut was not lost when the kids went off to residential schools. They still spoke Inuktitut at home, and they did go home in summertime. As well, not all kids went to school, and most of those that did go only went for a few years. Inuktitut was still alive and well when they switched over to federal day schools. It’s only in recent years that use has been going down rapidly, probably due to a better connection with the outside world via the internet. And as for what you do to fix it? You speak it at HOME, which is where almost all language acquisition happens anyway. Inuktitut use is going down because people aren’t speaking it at HOME.

        • Posted by Loss of Language on

          Majority of kids were forced to go to residential school and they were forced to never speak their native tongue – 10 months out of 12 and those 2 months they stayed home – they were already losing their language

        • Posted by uqallak on

          In the areas where Inuinnaqtun is spoken, they were harshly punished at residential school and they went to school sooner than the Eastern Inuit. They became less fluent over time and the younger ones resorted to English only very quickly and had passive language (understood, responding in Eng). This would be the same in other areas of Nunavut. The more kids that spoke Eng., the easier it was and is to respond in it. The less fluent in Inuk., the shame that was and is given making kids hesitant in speaking it. TV reinforced it very quickly. Because the kids understood their parents in Inuk/Inuin. their parents still spoke it to them but this reinforced the kids into speaking just in Eng. As they had kids, they spoke mainly in Eng. with a few words in Inuk./Inuin. the further the loss has been.

    • Posted by OKUKTUK on

      Inuit teachers and Inuit politicians have been in charge of
      Inuktitut for many, many, years. What a incompetent mess.
      They have been generously funded by the good cosmopolitan
      people of Canada. I thank them for that.
      Our native language failure is our own fault. Many native
      children did not lose their traditional language at residential
      school, although I don’t support residential school at all !!
      Why on earth are we getting reports from people in
      Europe ?
      Why not honest reports from people in Nunavut ?
      Europeans have exactly the same problems that we have in
      Educated people can be just as dishonest as criminals, but
      they do it legally.

  3. Posted by No Moniker on

    What I see here is a report commissioned by ITK, guaranteed (given the choice of scholars) to say precisely what ITK wants. The interests of the writers is clearly centered on a brand of moral panic they feed with hyperbolic and incendiary alarmism. Let’s at least understand this report for what it is, activism masquerading as an academic exercise. None of this is to say there aren’t real objective issues around education and language, only that framing them as a crime against humanity and some of the other non-sense here is neither productive nor accurate.

    • Posted by Reader on

      Obviously, you did not read the article.

      The study was not commissioned by ITK. The study was commissioned by Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated.

      • Posted by No Moniker on

        You’re right, I got my acronyms mixed up. Does that change the point you think? Not really.

        • Posted by Oh Ima on

          This research is from Inuit perspective of how we see things, not from government perspective which is often biased and seen from non-Inuit perspective. If you think non-Inuit are not biased of how they see things. I just had recent discussion with a non-Inuk and Inuk couple and I talked about a recent experience and Inuk partner spoke about his experience and sure enough the non-Inuk says maybe it’s this basically blaming the Inuk for his experience. So she realize she her views were from her perspective, experience and reality and not thinking how her partner’s experience and perspective.

          • Posted by Shilling for Social Justice on

            This “research” was written by three Europeans, so I am not sure how it could be said to be an “Inuit perspective” either. Though one could argue it is the work of sophists, paid to promote NTI’s current narrative.

            • Posted by oh Ima on

              yes it is, NTI rightly so will put the narrative so they can prove their point, that how research is done to make a point so that something can be done about a situation that is affecting Inuit culturally, socially and economically!

              All governments like to show that their citizens are fine when in fact there is something wrong with the system.

    • Posted by Distinction on

      ITK is an extension of the Government of Canada. This report is clearly not their report lol

  4. Posted by Historian on

    The Minister of Education is an Inuk, as was the former Minister of Education. The Deputy Minister of Education is an Inuk, as was the former Deputy Minister of Education.

    Indeed, all current Cabinet Ministers are Inuit. The government of Nunavut is set up such that nothing of significance can change without the expressed approval of Cabinet.

    If Nunavut’s education system “constitutes cultural genocide,” as claimed by NTI, then the perpetrators of that genocide are Inuit.

    This is perhaps an appropriate time to be talking about genocide. Now is the celebration of the escape of the Hebrews from their attempted genocide at the hands of the Egyptians – which was the first attempted genocide in recorded history. Do Inuit need/want to spend 40 years in the wilderness?

    • Posted by The Old Trapper on

      Historian – the enslavement of the Hebrews by the Egyptians is likely a myth, as is the Exodus. But then most of the events in the Old & New Testament are made up, borrowed from other cultures, or complete fabrications.

  5. Posted by Looking forward to hearing the decision on

    Qujalivara NTI. I am grateful that NTI has brought this issue to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

    I have great respect for international bodies and, if the United Nations PFII decides that what is happening in Nunavut amounts to cultural genocide, I think that will be a wake-up call to Canadians everywhere.

    • Posted by Not even on

      Considering that Inuit have their own government (effectively) and legislative control over education in the territory, I doubt many Canadians will buy into this line of argumentation. I suspect most would ask what Nunavut’s government is planning to do to solve the problem? “Canada” can’t change this, unless you are of the mind that pouring money into NTI’s coffers is the answer. Why should anyone believe that?

      • Posted by Looking forward to hearing the decision on

        If the UNPFII agrees that cultural genocide is happening in Nunavut, then it will be interesting to see how the UNPFII allocates responsibility between Nunavut and the Government of Canada.

        I would allocate blame 50/50, because, on the one hand, the Government of Nunavut has not standardized Inuktitut, created enough curriculum, and hired enough teachers, and on the other hand, the Federal Government has not provided equitable funding (as outlined in the Berger Report).

        The argument that Nunavut alone has responsibility for education in the territory is false. The federal government gives an exorbitant amount of money for French education in Nunavut, which shows that it considers that aspect of Nunavut education as falling partly under federal jurisdiction. Since Indigenous rights and languages also fall under federal jurisdiction (via s. 35 of the Constitution Act, and as recognized by the recent Indigenous Languages Act), the federal government also has responsibility to support Inuktitut education.

        The Canadian government has tried to ignore the reality that Indigenous education falls partly under its purview for a long time. Note that there is a branch of the federal public service dedicated to Indigenous health, but no such branch dedicated to Indigenous education.

        However, if the UNPFII finds that Canada is violating international obligations in relation to Inuktitut in Nunavut, that will the a clarion call for Canada to start taking seriously its responsibility over not just French education, but also Inuktitut education.

        • Posted by Israel McArthur on

          Education is NOT a federal responsibility, it is a provincial and territorial responsibility. Protection of official language rights (English and French) is a federal responsibility

          The Berger Report is not legally binding on anyone, the feds have no obligation to follow its recommendations.

          The federal government’s responsibility to support regional languages is very limited. The funding provided to to the GN for its education system can be deemed to qualify. If the GN squanders that money, so be it, the feds met their responsibility.

        • Posted by Herbie on

          Well, in a way it doesn’t matter what UNPFII decides as it has no sovereignty in this matter. Public perception likely will be that these claims of genocide and crimes against humanity are grandiose and hyperbolic non-sense. Which is not to say that the Canadian public is antagonistic to the preservation of Inuktitut either. I think the best thing for your cause would be to show a break down of the numbers. You say the Inuit language is underfunded. So, how many federal dollars go toward Inuit education and how many go toward other language groups on a per capita basis, for education?Is this gross under funding is really happening? Also, this issue begs the question, who is responsible for delivering language education? Why isn’t it happening? If more money is the answer, how will more money affect the outcome? Will it change anything, or only make for a heavier more well padded bureaucracy around the language file?

        • Posted by En francais on

          French language education gets funding because it is specifically protected by section 23 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

          Indigenous language education is not. At best, it can be implied in section 35 of the Constitution 1982, but that argument has never been made/upheld in a court.

          • Posted by Herbie on

            Mais oui! But, maybe the point is that just because it is that way, does not mean we should be satisfied that things must remain that way. Maybe the gist of the argument is that Inuit language needs the same kinds of protections and funding as French. Vous comprenez?

    • Posted by Israel McArthur on

      No, it won’t. The broad attitude among many will be, ‘Hey, you got a ‘homeland’ – name another minority group in Canada that is so fortunate? You’re the government, you are the decision makers, stop the whining, take some responsibility, and get your people into education instead of generational social assistance. We’re tired of pouring massive amounts of Canadian money into your dysfunctional territory – fix your problems and then get back to us.’

      A bit harsh, but versions of this sentiment are not uncommon.

  6. Posted by NTI’s dirty little secret on

    Well, there’s one thing this article is good for, it helps us take a good hard look at NTI’s dirty little secret.

    NTI loves to denounce colonialism and European imperialism and blame Europeans for everything that is going wrong in Nunavut.

    So guess who they hire to do their thinking and writing for them? They hire three European imperialists to do their thinking and writing for them.

    This is NTI’s dirty little secret. Despite all their millions of dollars they do not have the intellectual capacity to do their own policy work.

    So when NTI wants to send their own president to the United Nations to complain about European imperialism, guess who has to do the work for them? Three European imperialists. I actually find this rather sad and pitiable. In fact it makes NTI look so pathetic I almost feel sorry for them.

    • Posted by AA on

      The Emperor has no clothes, said no one to the Emperor. After all they did not want to fall out of favor.

    • Posted by No Moniker on

      The problem with your argument is that being European is not synonymous with being an Imperialist. You have pointed out an interesting irony though. The zealots chosen to write this piece were clearly picked to add gravitas to Aluki’s crusade for more language funding; their primary tactic? Shame the Government of Canada into opening is wallet. I don’t think it will work. At least I hope it does not work until we see NTI’s plan to save the Inuit language, costs included. In my opinion that would go a lot further than flooding the conversation with exaggerated claims about genocide and crimes against humanity meant to create a moral panic.

  7. Posted by BrighterFutures on

    Inuit are 100 per cent represented in Cabinet and are also holding several DM jobs. Maybe the Nunavut Project should just die? Inuit just seem to fight each other constantly along the lines of old clans. That’s no way to run a government. More to the point: If kids don’t stay in school and if graduation levels remain below 30% (and that includes non-Inuit) : where are the Inuit teachers supposed to come from? “Communication” said it well: speak it at home. And get the kids to school. Keep them off the English TV and social media sites. It’s up to the parents to make this happen. You gotta start somewhere! As for the authors of this NTI report – European academics chosen for their biased academic perspectives.

  8. Posted by Brian Penney on

    It is misleading to say that the Federal Government spends 44 times more per capita on French instruction than it spends on Inuit instruction without mentioning that education is the responsibility of the Nunavut Government who spend $15,000 plus per capita. Putting aside all the high-fallutin’ rhetoric, the report does suggest an evidence-based approach to education policy could improve results and reduce costs.

  9. Posted by Why u Dum on

    Hello is there anyone home who knows about Edumaction in Nunavut? It is not the Government that chooses the language that the students are educated in. It is the local DEA that decides! They chose not the government. So how many DEA’s in Nunavut chose the Qulleq model to education. The blame here is with the Local DEA

    • Posted by Israel McArthur on

      Most Nunavut residents know nothing about the language instruction models used in Nunavut, despite widespread publicity.

  10. Posted by Cs on

    Can barely staff enough teachers that speak English to teach in school. Good luck finding teachers who speak the native tongue as well! Give your head a shake. You need teachers to educate. Simple as that. Don’t live on the moon if you want the best opportunities in life.

  11. Posted by JK on

    Removing all the BS,
    Set of Questions #1
    Do you believe Inuit should not lose their mother tongue?
    What are you doing about it in your household?
    Are you non-Inuk?
    Set of Questions #2
    Do you believe Inuit should not lose their mother tongue?
    What are you doing about it in your household?
    Are you Inuk?

    • Posted by Israel McArthur on

      Question #3

      Do you acknowledge that ethnicity is not important and that all Nunavut residents have a voice in its educational and language policy?

      Question #4

      Do you acknowledge that a functional knowledge of a regional language like Inuktut and a national language like English or French is absolutely the most desirable outcome for Nunavut residents?

      Question #5

      Do you acknowledge that not having ability in one of the national languages and being limited to a reginal language such as Inuktut will lead to a lifetime of reduced outcomes and lost opportunity?

    • Posted by Non-Inuk on

      I believe the Inuit language needs to be preserved and strengthened. I don’t speak it so, there is little I can do about it. Though I do encourage my wife to speak it to our son as much as possible.

      • Posted by Israel MacArthur on

        Absolutely! I think that everyone on this board would agree with you 100%. However, the reality is that functional ability in either English or French is also a necessity for success. Is this fair? No, not at all. Is it necessary?

        This is not at all uncommon. In many many countries it is perfectly common for a person to speak a regional language and one of the national languages. That is what the reality of Nunavut is as well.

      • Posted by Israel MacArthur on

        What would be interesting would be to disaggregate the numbers and look at loss of Inuktut speakers and compare it with family demographics. The large increase in newcomer to Canada immigration to Nunavut could explain some of the numbers, together with the already mentioned effect of linguistic intermarriage. If we remove these two factors and look at the status of Inuktut it would be more informative I think.

  12. Posted by Northern Guy on

    NTI and its hired guns should be very careful what they ask for. Let’s imagine for a moment that the Governments of Nunavut and Canada agree with NTI and move to fund a curriculum that meets the criteria set out within the report. What then? Will more students actually remain in school and complete grade 12? Unlikely, as the reasons behind student absenteeism and non-participation have far less to do with curriculum and language of instruction than they do with dysfunction within families and households. If implemented, would such a curriculum make Nunavut students better equipped to enter into the kinds of post-secondary programs that Nunavut requires to fill the gaping holes that currently exist? Again, unlikely, because any Nunavummiut whose primary language of education is Inuktut will not be properly equipped to successfully complete a Medical, Nursing or Engineering program that is delivered in English. So what will this aspirational goal actually produce? The most obvious answer is that such an educational system would produce students robbed of their ability to work and be educated anywhere other than Nunavut, which in effect robs these future students of both opportunity and choice.

  13. Posted by Fake Plastic Tree on

    Given the severity of the claim I think we need to take apart the term “cultural genocide”. Is this a meaningful term in this context, or is it being used as a rhetorical device? Note, the term only appeared in a draft for the UNDRIP, not in the final copy, and no definition was offered. I wonder if the authors of this report have provided a working definition? I don’t see it in this article either. To me genocide implies a deliberate act of erasure. I would suggest that that is not what is happening here; though the Government has not handled language preservation well or with any kind of competence. But this does not imply an act of intentional destruction is underway, as implicit in this piece, at least. In my opinion these kinds of exaggerated, rhetorical claims are grossly irresponsible, misleading and ultimately do a disservice to their implicit goals. I would be interested to hear from others who may have a different perspective on the use of the term. Perhaps the author of this piece or the report could illuminate the terminology for us readers?

    • Posted by Israel MacArthur on

      What would be interesting would be to disaggregate the numbers and look at loss of Inuktut speakers and compare it with family demographics.

      The large increase in newcomer to Canada immigration to Nunavut could explain some of the numbers, together with the already mentioned effect of linguistic intermarriage. If we remove these two factors and look at the status of Inuktut it would be more informative I think.

  14. Posted by Crystal Clarity on

    English has become the Lingua Franca of the world. All international business communications are conducted primarily in English and there is a huge need for qualified English teachers worldwide to meet the need of teaching foreigners English.

    No one can deny that “cultural genocide, linguicide, econocide and historicide ” has occurred in the Education system but are we going to spend years and years reiterating that or start doing something about it. Nunavut has been a territory for over 20 years now and the political elite which is predominantly Inuit has had that much time to start showing at least a little improvement in the use of Inuktitut in the home, school and society in general but instead of showing improvement or even remaining the same we are sliding backwards. And this is not a surprise. People are using Inuktut less and less despite the best efforts of schools, language committees, organizations, etc… and with the constant barrage of English in media,written formats, tv, radio, social media and so on it is bound to get worse.

  15. Posted by Defensive on

    This article got a lot of non Inuit defensive! Truth hurts!

    • Posted by Truth Speaker on

      Nothing to be defensive about. Canada created Nunavut for the Inuit as a partial atonement for past wrongs, what has the GN done with this wonderful gift except squander it and drive their people even further into poverty and marginalization.

      The GN needs to look in the mirror and wonder what they’ve done for the last generation.

    • Posted by Truth on

      Is that really what you see after reading the comments? I see that inuit have dropped the ball and not become the teachers they need to be to have inuktitut instruction in schools, and not brought up their kids speaking inuktitut as much as they now wish they had. Nobody else can come in and teach your kids inuktitut, that’s on inuit. Always was and always will be. If inuit don’t want to be teachers and nurses and doctors and police, you are not going to get those services in inuktitut, without using an interpreter, and even capable inuktitut interpreters who can translate medical or legal language or scientific / educational terms can be hard to come by.

  16. Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

    Parents speak to your children at home in Inuktitut!!! Young children are fast learners and can learn many languages simultaneously.

  17. Posted by Putuguk on

    Someone ought to ask a Jew, Yazidi, Boznian, Kurd, Izaaqi, Bambuti, Darfuri, Tutsi, or Timorese person how they feel about these “cide” terms being so easily kicked about when there are now more Inuit in Canada than ever before.

    In particular, it might be useful to ask a Darfuri since their genocide it is still simmering down – death toll 400,000 and counting. Or better yet, ask a Sudanese government official if they are guilty of such a thing seeing how the bar is now set so low for achieving such a distinction.

    There are real, conscious, indescribable acts of ethnic violence in living memory that constitute genocide. Using the same term to describe a debatable difference in funding priority for a normal government function is misuse of the term.

    In a few years they will have to come up with a new word for genocide as it has lost its original meaning through these cheap and flippant remarks.

    How the cheap theatrics of claiming common experience with these poor folk will gets us more Inuktun teachers, or is morally worth it, is beyond me. NTI please try something less offensive to those that have actually survived extermination.

    • Posted by Candace on

      Thank you Putuguk, this needed to be said.

      The word genocide means something, and it is a terrible, purposeful extermination. The fact that Government hasn’t succeeded at something that government alone will never succeed at (language promulgation is a communal affair) should not be compared to a genocide. It demeans and cheapens a term that should be reserved for atrocities, some of which have happened in recent history. But it also lessens the impact of language loss, which is a serious issue which does not require resort to hyperbole.

  18. Posted by Knockout Ned on

    I have mixed feelings about this.

    On the one hand, it’s hard to argue with the reports conclusions. Dramatic language aside, it’s pretty accurate.

    On the other hand, what a waste of money. Yes, it’s accurate, but we already knew that. How much did you spend on this report? How much have you spent on trips to New York?

    Hate to break it to you, but the UNPFII is a paper tiger. Loud applause, and then…..nothing.

    Yeah they drafted UNDRIP, which is cool. Look how much that’s helping us.

    The derivative tragedy here is that Aluki and Natan and all their hangers on and photographers and consultants can literally call up the Premier and/or Prime Minister anytime they want. They meet with them regularly.

    Instead of confronting these issues head-on, they solicit 3rd party academic reports for presentation in New York.

    C’mon guys. You’re both smart eskimos – now do something about it.

    • Posted by Not ned on

      They are making a case where there is none it is to confuse others than spend money that needs no spending its all at home that they should get stronger people from smaller communities thought it was Iqaluit but they moved here and now there kids are no longer speaking its at home not where you spend the money

  19. Posted by Colin on

    Inuit parents and youth need to ask bigger questions:

    What’s the purpose of education?

    Should Inuit have the educational opportunity become surgeons like Noah Carpenter (residential school graduate) and the fourth-year resident heart surgeon Donna May Kimmaliardjuk, or the professionals, managers, airline pilots and mining engineers in their own land?


    Should education enable Inuktitut speakers to live by trapping white fox and living in igloos and tents as their ancestors did?

    Do young people want education for both objectives and, if so, is it possible to accomplish both objectives? (The answer could and should be yes to both!)

    I submit that there’s blood on the hands, by destruction of the soul and ambition and by the resulting suicide and murder, of those who withhold from youth the opportunities of the high-tech economy—in English.

    • Posted by Questioning on

      There is an associated question here; in most places in the world, “traditional” activities are not taught in schools. School is for academics and learning trades; where you learn math and physics and perhaps carpentry and engine repair. Outside of school is where you learn to hunt or fish or learn to knit, whether you learn it from family or others. One of the issues the educational system is going to have to answer is what is it for? Because if it’s to support “traditional” lifestyle, they’re doing it wrong. If it’s to provide an education for the modern world, they’re doing it wrong as well.

      • Posted by not about that on

        money NTI spent 5000000 on language who in Nunavut will use their programs not many, they want to give more to someone who wont serve anything or anyone

  20. Posted by If Greenland can do it… on

    The main arguments in this thread could be boiled down to four:

    1) it doesn’t matter what international institutions think (not true – Canada does care about it’s international reputation),

    2) if the UNPFII does decide that cultural genocide is happening in Nunavut, it is not the federal government’s problem (not true – if cultural or physical genocide is happening at a sub-national level, the national level must step in to protect citizens),

    3) Inuktitut is primarily declining because of linguistic intermarriage rather than the impact of English-language schools (this is true for Iqaluit due to the higher rates of linguistic intermarriage there, but it is untrue for most of the communities in Nunavut where Inuktitut is the home language and then children lose their mother tongue once they attend English-language schools), and

    4) because English is the main global and Canadian language, only English should be taught in schools (not true – not only is a bilingual English/Inuktitut school system possible, as in Greenland, but it also leads to better academic and language outcomes when students gain a strong foundation in their mother tongue and then learn English as a second language in Grades 6 or higher. It is the current system of forcing Inuktitut-speaking kids to go to school in English before they have a strong foundation in their home language, which is leading to a system where students graduate without a strong foundation in either language – see Berger Report).

    • Posted by Observer on

      Nice strawmen you’ve constructed. I don’t see anyone suggesting that English only should be taught, but have issue with the idea that *Inuktitut* only should be the language schooling is in. I don’t think anyone is arguing that being multilingual is a bad thing, but what is being pointed out is that right now the school system in Nunavut is terrible whatever language it happens to be in.

  21. Posted by Thomas Berger’s Report on Nunavut education, on

    “You might ask: why not just teach in English, and let Inuktitut fend for itself as an Aboriginal language for only private use? I have considered this alternative but it is impractical and, moreover, unacceptable.

    First, because experts on language in schools say that the foundations of language during the crucial early years of education are best developed using the child’s
    native tongue as the language of instruction. In other words, if you want children speaking Inuktitut to develop real skills in English, it is better to focus on Inuktitut to provide a firm anchor of learning during those developmental years. The same is true of scholarship generally. Children who speak aboriginal languages will be better students, and will be more likely to stay in school, if they receive more instruction in their first language.

    Second, because those graduates who go on to positions of responsibility in government, though they will receive their post-secondary training in English, would nevertheless be required to deliver government services in the language of the community.

    Third, because Inuktitut is the vessel of Inuit culture. The Inuit are determined to retain their language; it is integral to their identity.

    I would add one other reason why we cannot move to an English-only school system: we have tried it before, and we know it doesn’t work. In the Indian residential schools, it led to tragedy. In Nunavut today, the schools in Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay have an all-English program and graduation rates are no better than in the other regions of Nunavut, where an all-English system of instruction prevails after Grade 3.

    The only solution is to provide a bilingual system that works.”

    • Posted by Apple Jelly on

      Interesting points, I don’t see anyone here advocating for an English only school system though. That the GN has been unable to deliver on Inuktitut education is too bad, but no one is celebrating that.

  22. Posted by Wondering on

    Considering all things being, the instruction (as some of these comments sound to be) being given here is all in English complex and useless choice of big words to make you look more educated (more right) than others. Notice how it seems as though only non-Inuktut speakers are fighting to determine what is good for us, fighting our own fight. Don’t you think lingual elders would want to understand who is voicing their opinions on the opposition. Speaking of languages, this is the exact purpose of the movement by Aluki. I believe she knows more than you.

    I hope Isarel is not at work with the GN and just commenting away during his 9-5

    • Posted by Logophile on

      Just because you don’t understand those “big words” doesn’t mean they are useless. lol

    • Posted by Israel MacArthur on

      Exactly, thank you, my 9-5, and no one else’s. One of the joys of the very few joys my age. 😉

      As for my words – what about them? Pretty standard stuff.

      • Posted by To Isarel on

        I’m not saying I don’t understand them. When did I say that? See, this is the problem with everyone around here. They see one thing and tell a million different things, our artifacts, aren’t yours. We don’t need you to speak for us.

        We are paying taxes like regular people. You like words, read the NLCA.

        • Posted by Israel MacArthur on

          I believe that you have misdirected your comment, are you sure that it wasn’t meant for Logophile? I have said nothing about you not understanding words.

          I’m quite familiar with the NLCA, thank you very much. Nothing in it disagrees with what I’ve written here. My experience has been that there are many in Nunavut who don’t fully understand it and have listened to the half-truths and distortions being spread by the likes of NS and other Inuit ethno-nationalists.

          To your other point, we non-Inuit are also residents of Nunavut and have absolutely as much right to be here as any Inuit. Despite the inherent racism and prejudice shown by many Inuit, we aren’t going away. Your culture is not mine, and mine is not yours, true, but all of them belong in Nunavut society.

        • Posted by Okaay on

          Who is speaking for you? Does it bother you that “others” voice their opinions on issues such as this? Or, do you imagine some utopia where only Inuit are allowed to comment on the news, no one else? Fortunately the modern world doesn’t work this way, though I will grant you, at times it seems this is our trajectory.

  23. Posted by Colin on

    To put it bluntly, Nunavut’s a charity case for Canadian taxpayers, and Inuit leaders seem determined to keep their “children” as wards of the state in forever—in effect, as second class citizens. Taxpayers have rights too. What happens if they stop paying? Maybe put to use the dead money in the Inuit trust fund now merely supporting bums on seats and non-Inuit investment managers?

    Inuit could be determining “what is good for us” for themselves in Inuktitut, if they had the education, skills training and ambition to find, and then own and run their own mines like Baffinland and Meadowbank.

    Of course, Inuit would then have to write the prospectus for investors, in English, and Inuit mining engineers would have to do the geology and environmental protection, in English.

    Instead, Inuit leaders (who don’t speak for followers) employ academics—dumb even if they are multilingual—to write condescending reports about language because Inuit are incapable of researching and writing it for themselves. It’s now Nunavut twenty years, and twenty more before that in non-preparation to get weaned off the taxpayers’ teat.

  24. Posted by Jim on

    Hot topic. Glad there are no threats, yet! 🙂

    I sure think writing in roman orthography versus syllabics would perpetuate the life of the language a lot!

    • Posted by Umiliviniq on

      roman orthography has helped the language Kalaallisut to survive in Greenland. It has meant that Greenlanders could read any translation of any literary works such as Shakespeare’s plays, the poems of
      Robert Burns, Dickens novels any of the major works of European authors A Typesetter did not need to know the language as he laid out the type in reverse order. Imagine the difficulty of typesetting syllabics!

      Jose Kusugak worked in the early 70s to introduce more orthography as a way of maintaining the language. Now nearly 50 years later we are still waiting for this crucial decision to be made along with standard form.

  25. Posted by Offended on

    This report is offensive to those of us whose parents and grandparents actually experienced attempted cultural genocide. Beaten, mocked, and humiliated for speaking our language, with the goal of eliminating it. It’s also offensive to the many Inuktut teachers that work hard everyday to pass on our language. There’s a big difference between government apathy, incompetence, or passivity when it comes to teaching Inuktut and a government taking deliberate and coordinated measures to erase our culture. If NTI wants more Inuktut teachers, then maybe they should re-think all the money they pump into NS, few of whose students go on to graduate from university let alone become teachers. Or cut down on staff vacations to New York.

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