Peter Kattuk is new CLEY minister

Sanikiluaq’s first cabinet minister will be responsible for the CLEY department.



IQALUIT — Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik has given Hudson Bay MLA Peter Kattuk the ministerial portfolio of Culture Language Elders and Youth.

Okalik made the announcement at a press conference this week.

“Peter participated in a study of traditional knowledge long before it was a hot topic,” said Okalik of the new minister’s qualifications.

He said Kattuk was familiar with the issue of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, as it had figured prominently in the debate over Hydro Quebec’s plans for James Bay II power project.

Okalik said he had decided not to shuffle his cabinet because Nunavut’s cabinet ministers are only a year into their portfolios and that he needs more time to evaluate their performances.

Kattuk said his experience of growing up in a traditional way would serve him well.

“I understand there is a large amount of work to be done,” said Kattuk. He said he wants to work closely with Education Minister James Arvaluk to promote Inuit culture and language.

When asked about whether he and Arvaluk would be looking at the adoption of a Roman orthography writing system for Inuktitut, Kattuk said he feels that raising the issue is inevitable.

“It has to be. I don’t know how we’re going to change, but…” Kattuk said he felt it was necessary for Inuit in different communities to be able to communicate with one another better.

He said that in his experience, learning different dialects had been valuable to him. He also said that Inuit are in the process of developing a more universal version of Inuktitut.

He also said that he feels that Inuktitut is strong in Nunavut and is experiencing a revival now that children are no longer taken to residential schools and forbidden to speak their mother tongue.

“Today it’s improving, it’s enhancing,” he said.

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