Quebec’s Bill 96 not expected to impact Nunavik, KRG says

‘We want to have our own language protections,’ says Inuk councillor

Kativik Regional Government councillors met in Tasiujaq last week. Some councillors said they’re concerned that new language legislation in Quebec could impede on the region’s use of Inuktitut. (Photo courtesy of KRG)

By Sarah Rogers

New Quebec legislation aimed at giving the French language more prominence across the province should not impact the use of Inuktitut in Nunavik, the regional government says.

Kativik Regional Government councillors expressed concerns to the organization’s legal department last week about Bill 96, Quebec’s newly tabled Act respecting French, the official and common language of Quebec.

Bill 96 proposes changes to Quebec’s 44-year-old Bill 101 to beef up protections for French as it’s used in business, education, immigration services and court systems.

The bill proposes stricter rules to ensure French is used in the workplace, capping the number of students who can attend English-language CEGEPS, or colleges, more prominent use of French in commercial signage and removing bilingual status from municipalities that do not have an English-speaking population of at least 50 per cent.

“The purpose of this bill is to affirm that the only official language of Québec is French,” the act says. “It also affirms that French is the common language of the Québec nation.”

But Nunavimmiut say they’ve yet to be consulted on the new legislation.

“This is very touchy,” Kangirsuk councillor Jeannie Nungak said during KRG council meetings May 31 in Tasiujaq.

“We protested Bill 101 when it was first introduced. We are the original people of this land. Even if we are fewer, out rights shouldn’t be trampled.”

Bill 101 does indeed uphold the use of Indigenous languages in Quebec. Inuit registered under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement are exempt from the language laws set out in the act.

The bill also provides for the use of Inuktitut as the language of instruction in Nunavik’s schools.

While the full impact of the new legislation remains unclear, the director of the KRG’s legal department told councillors that the regional government is not aware of any potential changes for Nunavik.

“At this time, we don’t feel there’s any cause for alarm of Bill 96,” said Johanne Fortin. “It does not appear to have any impact on the KRG or the Northern Villages. It would appear we’re excluded from its application.”

Fortin said the legal department will continue to monitor the legislation as it works its way through Quebec’s legislature.

But some councillors said that exemption isn’t enough; they want to see provincial legislation that will also move to strengthen Inuktitut in Nunavik.

“You, as a French person, will see your language strengthened, while we suffer,” Inukjuak councillor Sarollie Weetaluktuk told legal department staff, in Inuktitut.

“We don’t just want you tell us that we won’t be affected — we want to have our own language protections. We want to work together to determine what Inuit want to see in the future.”

Weetaluktuk said Inuit want a say in the province’s language legislation, as it goes through a consultation period at Quebec’s legislature this fall.

Bill 96 also proposes to amend section 90 of the Canadian Constitution to indicate that Quebec forms a nation, and that French should be the only official language of Quebec.

The legislation would also create a minister of the French language in Quebec as well as a French language commissioner.

You can see the full legislation here.

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(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by Inuk on

    KRG don’t also feel the impact of mining and they have absolutely no influence on unilingule French only positions in the mines in Nunavik and looks like no understanding of that type of mingling

  2. Posted by Leave quebec on

    Nunavik need to leave quebec and move to Ontario or Nuanvut. Quebec is a horrible place for inuit that only speak English and Inuktiutut

  3. Posted by Oh my on

    When I first came to Nunavik to work some 20 yrs ago most services were in English, there are presently a large percentage of Hospital staff among others that are unilingual francophones,apparently this has occurred in both coasts, we were told to complete all files in english as per patient rights this is no longer the case, all documets from the south are written in french,from govermental papers relating to pensions, to legal papers,there should be interventiion in this manner unless no one really minds

  4. Posted by It affects inuit on

    So we should all just be herded into nunavik without the chance of equal opportunity to live in our province, other than the region of nunavik? Not to mention that they would like to see English education drop from 17% and decrease annually until it hits zero! How does this not affect nunavik? Our medical papers are now filled out in French, with no respect to the patients. Our government papers for taxation and everything else that comes from Quebec are in French. How does that not affect nunavik? KRG is doing a piss poor job. Our population is not even 25% French. I call for separation of Quebec.

  5. Posted by Ofc Quebec govt investigated itself on

    KRG I knew always were a bunch of backstabbers. They work for the Quebec govt so we cannot trust them. They’re shepherding us and keeping us in nunavik and that’s the only opportunity they want us to have. They don’t want us working the top jobs in the mines Quebec is about to open up. They want to oppress us just like the Chinese do to the Africans in the mines. Cheap labour. They don’t want us to have our tax papers in English, and have us educate ourselves in a little accounting. They don’t even want to continue to have English cegep studies. They want to diminish that 17% of English students down to zero! They don’t want that simple equal opportunity for inuit because, That means smart inuit and money out of their greedy pockets! They don’t want us to read our medical papers! They can be misdiagnosing us like they’ve done to my father and mother and it’s all too common! They said my father had arthritis when it was ALS and they said my mother had MS when she was in no serious threat! This is what Quebec influences! This is what KRG has become! They want us corralled for the culling! They don’t want us to thrive in our own province! They want us to be that little secret they keep in the shadows!

    I want makivik to step up, and do their own investigation as to how it affects inuit life and the equality of being a Quebecer! I don’t want no self review by the Quebec govt for the Quebec govt. I want our people to have equal opportunity within our province! This is an outrage! This is an apartheid.

  6. Posted by Johnny Kasudluak on

    It is not a surprise that they say it won’t affect Nunavik.
    It is already hard for them to realize the impact of Bill 101.
    As a business owner, it is virtually impossible to receive services in English, let alone INUKTITUT! Go represent us blindly Reps, most of you have no idea.
    I have spoken to francophone service providers who fear being reprimanded for providing services in English. Surely there is no official INUKTITUT services, and forms for me. “I’m not supposed to help you in English” they’d say.
    Instead of dealing with this, rectifying it someone at KRG is sitting on their hands for a long time.
    Systemic effin Racism, comfortably not dealt with. It surely must be affecting economic development.

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