Ottawa, Nunavut promise $67M for support of Inuktut

GN pledges $25M for revamped NTEP

The Government of Nunavut is promising to spend $25 million on a revamped Nunavut Teacher Education Program, which is offered through Nunavut Arctic College. (File photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

Though the agreement’s not final, the governments of Canada and Nunavut are promising to spend a combined total of up to $67 million over five years on supporting and revitalizing Inuktut in Nunavut.

The Department of Canadian Heritage announced those spending commitments today, saying it’s part of a Canada-Nunavut collaboration that includes Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

It also represents one of the first implementation actions flowing from the Liberal government’s recently passed Indigenous Languages Act, which received royal assent in June.

“The Government of Canada, the Government of Nunavut, and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated are collaborating toward an agreement that will support, revitalize and strengthen Inuktut in Nunavut,” their news release says.

To that end, the federal government, through the Heritage Department, promises to spend up to $42 million over five years on strengthening Inuktut in Nunavut.

That commitment is subject to details that will be contained in an agreement that has yet to be finalized, through a federal-territorial-Inuit body called the Nunavut Partnership Table on Language and Education.

At the same time, the GN has promised to spend $25 million on what it describes as a “new laddered approach” to the Nunavut Teacher Education Program.

Earlier this year, a 2017 GN report on NTEP that was leaked to the media this past June found that NTEP-trained teaching graduates are not prepared to enter the teaching profession.

The report also found that NTEP instructors are poorly motivated, lack commitment and often show up to work late.

Nunavut Arctic College and its board of governors are responsible for NTEP.

Also last June, NAC and the Memorial University of Newfoundland announced an agreement under which Memorial will become Nunavut’s new partner on NTEP and will offer an “Inuit Bachelor of Education program” through the Labrador Institute.

That means Memorial will replace the University of Regina as an accreditation partner.

Under that revamped version of NTEP, NAC says it will now offer three levels of certification:

• A Nunavummi Inuktut Uqariuqsatittijiunirmut Ilinniarniq certificate.

• A language specialist diploma.

• A bachelor of education degree.

The president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Aluki Kotierk, who in the past has been highly critical of federal and territorial government policies and practices related to Inuktut, said she’s pleased with the announcement and with the creation of the Nunavut Partnership Table on Language and Education.

“Inuktut must become the first language in Nunavut schools according to the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act, and I believe this is a good concrete step towards realizing that,” Kotierk said in the news release.

“We are committed to ensure teacher training will be scaled up to more Nunavut communities following ongoing research, development, planning and implementation, monitoring and evaluation by the Nunavut Partnership Table on Language and Education,” she said.

For his part, Patterk Netser, the minister responsible for Nunavut Arctic College, said NAC will work with other GN departments to do more language training.

“Under the Turaaqtavut Mandate, and in keeping with the guiding principles of Ikajuqtigiinniq—working together for a common cause—Nunavut Arctic College is working with the GN departments of Culture and Heritage, Human Resources and Education to further language training in our community learning centres and campuses throughout Nunavut,” Netser said.

The yet-to-be-completed deal, described as a “pathfinder” agreement, will emphasize the following:

• Increasing access to Inuktut-language instruction in Nunavut.

• Increasing and maintaining the number of proficient Inuktut-speaking Inuit educators.

• Increasing the number of fluent Inuktut speakers in Nunavut.

• Establishing the Nunavut Partnership Table on Language and Education.

Nunavut News asked the Heritage Department to explain the term “pathfinder agreement,” but did not receive a clear answer.

“The Indigenous Languages Act is the result of an extraordinary collaborative effort, which is continuing during its implementation. It’s in this spirit that the Government of Canada, the Government of Nunavut, and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated are collaborating toward an agreement that will support, revitalize and strengthen Inuktut in Nunavut. Details of the agreement are still being finalized by the three parties,” a departmental spokesperson said.

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(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by Inuk on

    Wow! This is great news! This will surely help, the NTEP needs to be updated and Inuktut materials and resources made and updated.

    Thank you!

  2. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Let’s be clear the federal portion of this investment like most if the recent multi-year funding announcements by the Federal government are very much contingent upon the Liberals forming the next government. While one can count on Conservative support for recent decisions to invest in Grays Bay and the Kivalliq this funding announcement will never survive a change of government. Nunavut voters take note.

    • Posted by Poli-mori on

      Yes, which is exactly why this promise was made. It’s a game of political chess with the conservatives.

  3. Posted by OMG on

    The NTEP investment will benefit all GN departments except Education. Once NTEP graduates get a taste of the reality of teaching, the responsibilities of teaching, dealing with students who come to school not prepared and unwilling to learn, dealing with unrealistic parents, and the ever-increasing amount of mental illness pervading schools – they’ll be working in some other GN dept.

    • Posted by Consistency on

      you are right… that is why we as parents, and community need to provide support to all teachers. Get our kids up in time to make it to the breakfast program (which means send them to bed early enough). Talk to our kids about how school is going, what they are learning, if there are any issues. And every kid goes though some issues so then helping deal with those issues… not just yell at the teachers. Also go to the Parent/Teacher interviews, and ask the teachers what can be done at home to help our kids at school.

  4. Posted by Piitaqanngi on

    Would be interesting to see their definition of a proficient Inuktut-speaker. It seems there’s a gap between elder/unilingual Inuktitut speakers and those taught in the school system. As it stands, elders have to speak broken Inuktitut to be understood by the younger generation.
    The level of Inuktitut has degraded over the years. Not just because Inuit are no longer speaking it but also because Inuit have no say in the level and quality of Inuktut being taught in the schools.
    This agreement is welcome but it might be too little too late to save the rich language Inuit once had. If we don’t install elders that have the language know-how into those educating positions we will continue to see Inuktitut being spoken at a sub-par level.
    There are many words that have been lost. Words that would’ve made it easier to make Inuktut the working language. The agreement needs to include retention of traditional words while it is still possible. Those in the know are passing on. Otherwise, Inuit language specialists have to start coming up with Inuktut equivalents that would enable the language to become a true working language.

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