Pangnirtung MLA Margaret Nakashuk says the lack of commitment to provide services in Inuktitut is a source of consternation.

“We rarely hear Inuktitut being spoken or have bilingual workers” in Iqaluit, says Pangnirtung MLA Margaret Nakashuk. photo courtesy of the Government of Nunavut

“When we look at our signage in Inuktitut, many of them have spelling errors and government is helping to deteriorate the language,” Nakashuk said in the legislative assembly on Friday. “When you arrive to Iqaluit or even in an airplane, we rarely hear Inuktitut being spoken or have bilingual workers. When I enter the terminal building, the
first language I hear is English, although I feel Inuktitut should be the first language spoken. If I enter a taxi, most drivers can’t speak Inuktitut, and when I go to a hotel, there is no Inuk receptionist most of the time – and including myself, even though I am trying to speak in Inuktitut, I still use English terminology for some words.”

Minister of Culture and Heritage David Joanasie said if the Inuit Language Protection Act is being violated, complaints can be directed to Nunavut’s languages commissioner for investigation.

Aggu MLA Paul Quassa also expressed his concern that Inuktut is given secondary treatment, even though he said the reason for the creation of Nunavut was to preserve the Inuit language.

“I, too, have seen examples of signage that is wrong. I am not denigrating any other
language, but we are in Nunavut and Inuktitut must always be first. It really has to be the
first language,” he said. “Now, with this in mind, we should look at signage in our government offices, as up to now, English continues to be the dominant language when Inuktitut should be first.”

Joanasie replied that “perhaps we can direct that Inuktitut always be placed on top, and we will look into the Quebec signage (Quassa) referenced and how they operate their
linguistic publications.”

The minister also made reference to grants of up to $5,000 available to Nunavut businesses to meet Inuktut obligations, but he didn’t know how many businesses have applied or been approved through that program.

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