Quebec cabinet minister eyes Nunavut collaboration on language protection

Ian Lafrenière expects to table bill later this year, following meeting with Akeeagok in Iqaluit

Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok, left, met with Ian Lafrenière, Québec’s Minister Responsible for Relations with the First Nations and Inuit, in Iqaluit on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Ian Lafrenière’s staff)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A Quebec cabinet minister plans to table an Indigenous language protection bill this year, and he wants Nunavut’s help.

Ian Lafrenière, the minister responsible for relations with the First Nations and Inuit, said he will soon begin consultations on the legislation with Indigenous leaders and organizations in Quebec.

But after his first visit to Nunavut this week, which included a meeting with Premier P.J. Akeeagok in Iqaluit, Lafrenière said he’s also looking for insight from outside Quebec.

“We agreed to work together on this to see how we can share best practices, what we can do in Quebec,” Lafrenière said in a phone interview with Nunatsiaq News.

“I think it’s the beginning of a real good partnership.”

The Coalition Avenir government member said his proposed legislation has not begun being drafted yet, but by fall he hopes to have it tabled.

Over the past week, Lafrenière made two trips to the North.

The first was to Nunavik, where he spent Jan. 19 touring community organizations in Kangiqsualujjuaq with Mayor McCombie Annanack.

“I always ask people to decide what they want to show me, so it was his decision,” Lafrenière said.

The next day, Lafrenière was in Kuujjuaq for the presentation of the First Peoples’ Medals with Quebec Lt.-Gov. J. Michel Doyon.

While there, Lafrenière visited the new Isuarsivik Regional Recovery Centre and other sites where recent construction occurred.

After a brief return to Montreal, he headed to Iqaluit Monday with representatives from Makivik Corp. That brief trip was delayed and shortened after the plane’s windshield cracked, and they were forced to land in Ottawa and take a different flight.

“P.J. was such a nice guy,” Lafrenière said of his Tuesday meeting with the Nunavut premier.

“I can see that we’ve got so much in common in terms of protecting language, culture, in terms of building issues, construction issues; I see that as promising for a partnership.”

Lafrenière said he’s interested in finding ways to improve Nunavik’s housing crisis, similar to how Nunavut is hoping to build 3,000 houses by 2030.

Akeeagok welcomed Lafrenière’s visit, stating he wants to provide the help he can in improving living and employment conditions in Nunavik.

In an email from press secretary Beth Brown, the premier acknowledged not only the geographical proximity and cultural similarity of Nunavik and Nunavut, but also the family ties that exist between people in the two regions.

“I appreciate the efforts made by Minister Lafrenière to visit Nunavut and speak with officials on best practices for supporting our Inuit communities,” Akeeagok said in a statement.

“My door is always open to politicians who value partnerships that better the North.”

 

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(44) Comments:

  1. Posted by Lol on

    Quebec only cares about French

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    • Posted by Captain Obvious on

      Yes we all know that, we have to care about our language too and see how they do it so we can learn from them and help grow and protect our own language, as it’s eroding today and English has priority right now in our schools and government of Nunavut.

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    • Posted by Tulugaq on

      Funny you say that in English… the prevalent colonial language in this country! That Quebec is interested in Inuktitut is a start for decolonization.

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      • Posted by It Isn’t Going Anywhere on

        Colonial it may or not be, but it is here, it is not going away, and it is an absolute necessity for success. The inability to use it at a high level will ghettoize us.

        The secret it to get the balance right.

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        • Posted by Broken Record on

          You’ll notice a pattern with certain commenters; always the same complaints, no solutions or anything constructive ever said. Once you realize this, you can see their words for the noise they are.

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          • Posted by Oh Ima on

            No one is complaining; what you see as complaining is agreeing with the collaboration! Language protection is vital to people forced to learn a foreign language through various assimilation practices.

            All you complain about is your tax dollars cause that’s all you got to defend, nothing else.

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            • Posted by Bemused on

              “Language protection is vital to people forced to learn a foreign language through various assimilation practices. ”

              You mean like the devious, malicious, and manipulative technique of producing films, TV, music, and books that people freely want to watch, listen to, or read? Not to mention the really insidious way they provide communication technology to communicate with people from other places around the world.

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              • Posted by Learning on

                More inline with government and institutions where they actively put in place to erode a language with policies or lack of implementation.
                Take for example the language act for Nunavut, the education act, all have been watered down over the years since Nunavut came to be, the priority for the GN has been only English and making Inuktut minimal as possible.

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            • Posted by Mamgark says… on

              Johnny, your quick response sounds more like a confession to me than anything else. It’s as if you know that comment reflected you. And though it was written without you in mind, I have to agree with your admission that it is you 100%

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            • Posted by In Fairness on

              To be accurate, and fair, neither English nor French can be considered to be ‘foreign’.

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              • Posted by Fairness on

                To be more fair both English and French language are considered foreign here in Nunavut, it is not the original language.

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                • Posted by Lost in the mists of time on

                  We will never know the original language in this territory as it went extinct with the Tuniit.

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                  • Posted by Not exactly on

                    We do know some words from the Tuniit, past stories tell of trading with Tuniit. Some of the elders know some of the language and some are very similar to ours,

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                    • Posted by Skin FLute on

                      I know a few words of Inuktitut… I would never dare say I know the language.

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                  • Posted by 10% Tuniit on

                    It’s too bad the Tuniit died off from the European diseases that were brought over, nearly wiped out the Thule too but thankfully enough survived.
                    Interestingly enough now our language is on life support and a generation or two it might disappear also.

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                    • Posted by Error Correction on

                      Today in misrepresentation – it was the ancestors of today’s Inuit who replaced the Tuniit. Europeans were not part of the equation. When Inuit moved into what is now Nunavut they replaced them.

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                    • Posted by Source please on

                      Error correction, can you provide us with evidence and sources of your crazy claim?

                      The stories we have is it when the Europeans started coming here by sailboats that Tuniit and Inuit started getting sick and many whole clans died off, before that we lived side by side and even traded, but very quickly in a very large landmass both Inuit and Tuniit started dying off, the population wasn’t many to begin with and for the most part we lived peacefully along with other indigenous people like Cree, it wasn’t always peaceful but in no way could Inuit kill off a whole race in such a large landmass from Alaska to Newfoundland, but when Europeans started arriving with all their diseases they wiped out whole clans on Inuit and wiped out Tuniit.
                      This might be why researchers don’t want to touch this with a ten foot pole, it will show how the Tuniit died off.

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                    • Posted by Uqalurait: An Oral History of Nunavut on

                      How do you square this argument with Inuit oral histories? Have you read Uqalurait: An Oral History of Nunavut? See chapter 14, the elders tell us Inuit killed and drove the Tuniit from their lands. There were no Europeans in the area at that time.

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                    • Posted by Interesting for sure on

                      With very little research done and no evidence what so ever, how do we know for sure?
                      Who collected the oral history and who was interviewed to get this oral history?
                      The history I was told is yes they could be driven off but there was no killing, there’s even stories of mutual relationships between Inuit and Tuniit, some areas have long history between the two.
                      Not enough research has been done on this.

                      You are incorrect about no Europeans not being here at the time, when you look at when the Europeans started arriving here it is when the Tuniit started disappearing, Tuniit lived in a large area of the north far south to southern Newfoundland, the French island of St Pierre and Miquelon have Tuniit sites.
                      Tuniit lived with other indigenous peoples for many centuries, it is not a coincidence they started disappearing when the Europeans started arriving,.
                      More research should be done on this to clarify this. Whomever collected oral history in which part of the north and how many people they interviewed is in question here, there is other oral history that say other wise.

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                • Posted by The Reality on

                  Couple of points – neither is Inuktut. It is an import as well – you know, replacing the language of the region’s original inhabitants.

                  Second point, it is not possible, for a Canadian, on Canadian soil, speaking one of Nunavut’s official languages to be considered ‘foreign’. To think otherwise is nothing but xenophobia.

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  2. Posted by Inugaluaqpunga on

    This can be a very good partnership, we can definitely learn how to better protect our own language and also incorporate it in our language laws and use it in our governments in our territory.
    They have a lot of experience in this and making sure their own language doesn’t erode.
    The unilingual English speakers won’t like this as their narrow point of view is for everyone to just us one language. Why limit ourselves?

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    • Posted by The narrow view is yours on

      Just because someone is a unilingual English speaker does not mean they are hostile to language protection for Inuktitut. Talk about narrow mindedness, it is all yours.

      Nothing about the protection of Inuktitit threatens English speakers in any way.

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      • Posted by Open up a bit more on

        Unfortunately it is the case for a unilingual English person is threaten as they do not know anything else for a language and do not see the importance to learn another language as most haven’t had to learn or use another language.
        The most vocal people on here who are against having Inuktut in our schools or in the GN are usually unilingual English speakers.

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        • Posted by How it looks from here on

          There are small minded and ignorant people on all sides of any issue. Yet to paint all unilingual English speakers in this way is to vastly overgeneralize.

          You say “most [unilingual English speakers] haven’t had to learn or use another language.”

          That’s true, and it is unlikely to change in our lifetimes. Like it or not ours is the most spoken language on earth. Knowing that, where is the threat?

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          • Posted by See on

            See my case in point here, maybe it’s just more ignorance than anything else.

            I for one do not want to limit myself to just one language because most in Ontario or other unilingual speaking provinces do so.

            The north is so different than the south, on so many levels, it would be great if we could work closer with our neighbours to the east of us, Greenland, Iceland and Scandinavia on education, training, fishing, mining, language development.

            Would make more sense to work with them compared to our southern neighbours who would pretty much rather be like the US in a lot of things while being Canadian.

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  3. Posted by Lafreniere Terrible Cabinet Member on

    Ian Lafreniere is perhaps the worst cabinet member of a pretty terrible CAQ government.
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    His main understanding of and interaction with indigenous people has been as a rather heavy-handed cop of one of Canada’s most heavy-handed police officers.
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    The fact he ended up in charge of the mandate for first-nations and Inuit relations without any real experience in this domain was yet another example of the systemic racism which exists in Quebec towards first nations and Inuit. The mere existence of such systemic racism is denied by premier Legault, while he perpetuates such systemic racism through assigning unfit people to oversee relations with Quebec’s indigenous populations.
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    All we can get at best is lip service and the pretension of care from terrible people such as Ian Lafreniere, how pitiful…

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  4. Posted by Name Withheld on

    Okay, why hasn’t Nunavut reach out to Greenland? Their rights seem solid!!

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    • Posted by Because on

      Because Greenland doesn’t have to deal with southern Canada.
      Denmark, Scandinavia and most of Europe educate, learn more than one language, common practice, well developed and it works, makes it easier for Greenland with that open forward thinking.
      On the other hand, Nunavut curriculum comes from Alberta, we use the Alberta curriculum, on top of that our Nunavut Government has never made much of an attempt to really develop and educate in Inuktitut, they have done the complete opposite. It’s much more difficult here in Nunavut when our own government doesn’t see the benefits or they don’t appreciate it.
      We can still learn from Greenland in language development and use but for our Canadian practices where assimilation to one language is common Quebec makes sense to partner with to learn how to make it work for us in Canada.

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      • Posted by Huh on

        Why Quebec and not the only officially bilingual province?

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        • Posted by Because on

          Again because Quebec has been successful with dealing with the rest of Canada, English is not dominating Quebec and they know how to use the system to get what they want.
          Quebec and New Brunswick are the only places in Canada where French is actively used daily, the rest of Canada they would rather just use English and get rid of French if they could.
          We can learn from Quebec how they use the laws in Canada to protect their language.

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        • Posted by My Question Exactly on

          That was absolutely my question – why not a province with decades of experience officially operating in multiple languages? Nunavut and New Brunswick are the only places that try to operate with multiple official languages, but how often do we consult with New Brunswick? You’d think that there’d be lots to learn. Quebec is a poor model.

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      • Posted by Incompetence Reigns in the GN on

        You can blame Alberta and the ‘south’ until the end of time, but they are never going to be the agents of change for Inuktitut.

        We have a public government here in Nunavut that has that responsibility. To blame their failings on malice might be tempting, even satisfying in some way. But if we are honest with ourselves we have to know that incompetence looms large here.

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    • Posted by There’s A Simple Answer on

      Ummm, because Greenland is a European country within a federation of a very different nature than Canada. Politically, culturally, historically, and economically you are comparing apples and hamburger.

    • Posted by Oh? on

      How does a ban on hunting while using snowmobiles sound?

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      • Posted by Dumb on

        Sounds kind dumb ?

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  5. Posted by Englishman on

    The idea that you can protect languages, as if they are threatened, is nonsense. People choose to speak one or another. English is common so people speak English more often. You’re taught in english curriculum because there is no inuktitut qualified teachers or materials because people choose not to generate them or be teachers. If you cannot master english you’re on a one way track to difficulty and poverty so get over it and worry more about graduating the majority of high schoolers and not this red herring.

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    • Posted by iThink on

      Let’s stop framing this as a zero-sum game. It is not. We know that both languages can thrive and that need not come at the expense of the other.

      To be dismissive of the preservation of Inuktitut, which has been eroded largely due to the overwhelming influence and prominence of English, especially in education, is to flaunt a very narrow and privileged view.

      That said, English is an important language, like that fact or not. Inuktitut is also an important language to those who speak it and to those who are losing it. That you lack the creativity or imagination to see its importance is unfortunate for you.

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      • Posted by Immediate Concerns on

        The bigger challenge is Inuinnaqtun. Inuktitut is in no immediate danger, but the same can’t be said for Inuinnaqtun – that really should be the immediate territorial priority.

        It won’t be because centre of political and financial power is Baffin, but that is a different conversation.

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        • Posted by Just as important on

          Inuktitut is just as important, just because we have been working hard to preserve our language doesn’t make it any less than Inuinnaqtun,
          Like some who have said before, this region constantly plays the poor me and expects others to do the work for them, use your language at home, get your organizations and regional government to work on it, no one will do it for you.
          We can learn from each other and places like Quebec and Greenland.

          • Posted by Quebec Is a Poor Example on

            Quebec has nothing to teach us. They are a unilingual province – we are not. We have multiple official languages; Quebec only has one.

            Following the Quebec model would be incompatible with our multi-lingual status.

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      • Posted by Narrow and Privileged on

        The ones dismissive of Inuktitut preservation are the people who can but choose not to speak it, teach it or learn it. People finish the teaching program but go on to be senior bureaucrats. Besides cries of colonization and banter for more do-nothing federal cash, Inuit are effectively saying “Who cares?”.
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        Globalization has a price and it is simply that less relevant languages go by the wayside. I am not dismissive I just think the concept of “assault” and “threats” applying to languages is naive and nonsensical and that the real headline should be Nunavummuit failing high school instead of failing to learn a language employed by something like 40,000 people at most. It is not saying this is a zero sum game to suggest the GN get its priorities straight and finishing school is more of a priority than learning a language useful in maybe half of the population in any given Nunavut town of 100-8000 people.

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        • Posted by Kinda maybe on

          Hmm, I wonder how it’s possible for a small population of Greenland to be able to have their language in their schools and governments and the public sector and still be able to thrive in the all mighty global language of English, Spanish or French, same with Iceland and Faroe Islands.

          Something not right over there, they should just be speak our language English, it’s the global language after all. ?

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          • Posted by Observer on

            A major reason is that decades ago the government made the decision that they would use a single dialect that had a single writing system which would be the one taught in schools and used officially across the entire country.

            No Nunavut politician is willing to take that position and stick with it.

  6. Posted by Stephen C on

    Happy Campers!

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