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ITK issues scathing rejection of federal Indigenous languages bill

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami says a federal languages bill introduced in the House of Commons today fails to protect Inuit rights to speak Inuktut and it won't help revitalize the language.

New federal Indigenous languages legislation, introduced in Ottawa on Tuesday, falls far short of what Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is seeking, says ITK president Natan Obed.

The national Inuit organization also accuses the federal government of acting "in bad faith" as Inuktut is being treated as lesser than English and French, said Natan Obed, president of ITK, a national organization that advocates for Inuit.

The government's bill is "little more than a substitute for the Aboriginal Languages Initiative Program, itself a failed program which has overseen the decline of indigenous languages in Canada in recent decades," Obed said.

He asserted that the national Indigenous languages commissioner's office will be "a powerless advocacy body, perpetually burdened by costly and onerous reporting duties. It will be controlled by the federal government and serve to consume resources best directed to Indigenous peoples ourselves."

Obed added that the bill also lacks a federal obligation to fund Indigenous languages, nor does it provide for multi-party agreements and other arrangements that would extend Indigenous language programs and services at provincial, territorial and municipal levels.

"ITK wanted nothing more than to truly co-develop a bill that we could champion with other indigenous peoples and the Government of Canada,” said Obed. “In no way was this bill co-developed with Inuit.”