NTI tribunal calls for five-year plan to provide Inuit language education

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The government of Nunavut is expected to come up with a five-year plan to implement kindergarten to grade 12 Inuktitut education, according to Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., which filed a complaint on Wednesday alleging that the government failed to provide education. teaching in Inuktitut. (File photo)

NTI is suing the Government of Nunavut for alleged failure to teach Inuktitut

Updated Friday October 15, 2021 at 2 p.m.

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. has filed a lawsuit against the Government of Nunavut, claiming that the government has failed in its legal obligations to ensure the instruction of the Inuktitut language throughout the territory’s public school system.

“This claim is only about discrimination based on race and ethnicity – the fact that we are Inuit,” NTI President Aluki Kotierk said at a press conference in Iqaluit on Wednesday.

The Inuit of Nunavut, who form the majority in the territory, have the constitutional right to receive education at all levels and in all subjects in Inuktitut, Kotierk said.

“It would help young Inuit students to feel proud of who they are … so that they are not ashamed to speak Inuktitut, to be Inuit and to have their own cultural practices,” she said. added.

The demand seeks a court order requiring the GN to develop a five-year plan to provide Inuit language education from kindergarten to grade 12.

The 28-page request, filed Wednesday at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit, describes NTI’s allegations regarding the government’s long, historic failure to implement its own legislation. These claims have not been proven in court and the government has yet to respond in court documents.

NTI claims that shortly after its formation, in 2000, the GN dissolved the elected Inuit oversight of local school boards established by the Northwest Territories in the 1970s.

In 2006, retired judge Thomas Berger said the main cause of the failure of Nunavut’s education system was the inability to provide education in the Inuit language, NTI noted.

In 2008, the Government of Nunavut confirmed its commitment to this education by amending the Education Act and passing the Inuit Language Protection Act, NTI said.

These measures committed the government to deploying instructions in the Inuktitut language by 2019-2020, according to the court document.

But instead, the number of elementary schools that offered education in the Inuit language increased from 16 to 10, NTI said.

A 2013 Auditor General’s report found that the GN was not meeting its Inuit language goals, including not training enough Inuit teachers.

The government then canceled its obligations in 2020 through legislative amendments, the court said.

These changes replaced the government’s obligation to provide education in the Inuit language in all subjects with a single course called Inuit Language Arts.

He also pushed back the government’s deadline to integrate Inuit languages ​​to some extent at all grade levels by 2039.

Right now, teachers and principals in Nunavut are about 75 percent of non-Inuit speakers, NTI said.

And the government has undermined the implementation of Inuit language education by hiring non-Inuit educators, the organization said.

“Many Inuit employed in the education system are hired as substitute teachers or as relief or casual employees”, indicates the court document.

The government’s approach perpetuates historic wrongs and stereotypes, including that the Inuit language and culture are inferior and deserving of less protection than non-Inuit languages, claims NTI.

Many Inuit have not graduated from elementary and secondary schools, have low proficiency in English and Inuit languages, and face significant barriers to employment and cultural connections after school, NTI said.

Kotierk said the current education system in some ways mirrors the experience of many Indigenous people in residential schools.

“Although this is our own government, it is set up in a way that diminishes and degrades who we are as Inuit, and that plays into the intergenerational trauma of residential schools, he said. she declared.

The application seeks a court order requiring the government to implement Inuit language education throughout the public school system within five years, in consultation with the NTI.

Alternatively, the request asks the court for an order giving the government six months to develop its own plan.

Correction: This article has been modified from a previous version to correct a description of the government’s obligation to provide education in the Inuit language.


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