Nunavut’s new education, language bill does not reflect the needs of Inuit: NTI
NTI says the Government of Nunavut did not sufficiently consult with it during the bill’s development
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. says the Government of Nunavut’s plans to amend the Education Act and Inuit Language Protections Act fall short of responding to what Inuit have asked for.
Bill 25, “An Act to Amend the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act,” was tabled in the Nunavut legislature on June 5.
The GN did not sufficiently engage NTI in the development of those new amendments, the Inuit birthright organization said, resulting in legislation that does not reflect Inuit objectives.
While the legislation offered “a couple of modest improvements” over the GN’s last attempt to amend its Education Act—the failed Bill 37—”it was not a significant improvement,” NTI said in a June 5 release.
Bill 37, which was tabled by Nunavut’s previous government, would have delayed the implementation of Inuktut instruction in Grades 4 through Grade 9 from its originally planned deadline of 2020 until 2030.
The newly proposed Bill 25 would set back the full implementation of Inuktut even longer, until 2039, in recognition of teacher shortages and a lack of teaching materials.
“The government must be held accountable for the failure of Bill 25 to address NTI’s most important proposals on behalf of Nunavut Inuit in a meaningful way,” said NTI President Aluki Kotierk in the release.
“On this slow a schedule, a child born today—who will be 20 years old in 2039—will still not be able to receive Grades 9-12 instruction in Inuktut.”
Since the territorial government first began work on amending its education and language legislation, NTI has pressed for an Inuit employment plan for educators, which would deliver on-the-job training to Inuktut-speaking teachers.
NTI says Inuit want to see Inuktut as the main language taught in daycares and elementary and secondary schools in Nunavut, along with a stronger focus on Inuit Qaujimajatutangit.
The birthright organization has also criticized the new legislation for reducing the role of district education authorities in Nunavut.
Kotierk said NTI only saw the latest version of the bill the same day it was tabled.
“Nunavut Inuit have been clear in their expectations for the Education Act,” she said.
“Despite years of constructive contributions by NTI and other Nunavummiut, the Government of Nunavut appears to be offering very much the same repackaged amendments.”
A recent report prepared by NTI asserted that the Nunavut’s education system, and its lack of Inuktut-language curriculum, may be “criminally inadequate” and “constitutes cultural genocide.”
For its part, the GN said its latest amendments were based on consultations with hundreds of Nunavummiut, including NTI, the Coalition of Nunavut DEAs, the Commission scolaire francophone du Nunavut, the Nunavut Teachers Association, the Office of the Languages Commissioner and four student groups.
Bill 25 is expected to receive its second reading in the legislature on Thursday, June 6, before it goes to the standing committee of MLAs.
With the legislature adjourning its spring sitting that day, further discussion on the proposed bill will happen in the fall sitting, set to start on Oct. 17.