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Nunavut introduces new language bills

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/north/story/2007/06/06/nu-language.html Nunavut introduces new language bills Not strong enough, say Inuktitut proponents; small
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 8, 2007
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      http://www.cbc.ca/canada/north/story/2007/06/06/nu-language.html

      Nunavut introduces new language bills
      Not strong enough, say Inuktitut proponents; small businesses disagree

      Last Updated: Wednesday, June 6, 2007 | 9:17 AM CT
      CBC News

      Proposed laws aimed at protecting the Inuit language went through first
      reading Tuesday in the Nunavut legislature.

      But some say the legislation does not go far enough in putting Inuktitut
      and Innuinaqtun on an equal footing with English and French, while others
      say it goes too far.

      Louis Tapardjuk, the territory's minister of culture, language, elders and
      youth, introduced a new official languages act, along with an Inuit
      language protection act, for first reading.

      But Nunavut Tunngavik president Paul Kaludjak and Languages Commissioner
      Johnny Kusugak, who were at the legislative assembly when Bills 6 and 7
      were introduced, criticized the proposed legislation.

      "We truly believe that it could have been a lot stronger," Kusugak said,
      adding that he was expecting tougher enforcement provisions, as well as a
      shorter period of time before Inuktitut is mandatory in schools from
      kindergarten to Grade 12.

      Tapardjuk, however, said the language bills are part of an evolutionary
      process, putting the Inuit languages of Inuktitut and Innuinaqtun on equal
      footing with English and French.
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      "Sure, I'd like to see it tougher myself," he said. "However, we have to
      face reality. We are bound by the Nunavut Act, and English and French have
      to be recognized in Nunavut.

      "Our problem in the Inuktitut language is that we don't have
      Inuktitut-speaking judges, we don't have Inuktitut-speaking doctors,"
      Tapardjuk added. "It's eventually going to come around, but we are to make
      certain there are [pieces] of legislation that [address] that issue."

      Both proposed laws are meant to ensure Inuit can see and use their language
      in all facets of life, from phone bills and bylaw tickets, to workplaces
      and schools. They were developed following several months of public
      consultations around the territory.

      Under the proposed official languages act, English, French and the Inuit
      languages of Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun would be the territory's official
      languages. The current Official Languages Act, which existed when Nunavut
      was still part of the Northwest Territories, lists eight official
      languages.

      If passed, the Inuit language protection act would require services to be
      provided in Inuktitut or Inuinnaqtun, as well as ensure those languages be
      included on signs, bills and advertising. Such requirements would apply to
      stores and businesses — something that Claire Kennedy of D.J. Specialities
      in Iqaluit said may hurt small businesses like hers.

      "We can't compete with government wages as a small business, and that's
      where we get hurt," said Kennedy, who added that she has been having
      trouble hiring bilingual staff for years.

      The proposed protection act would also create a minister of languages and
      an Inuit language authority that would develop terminology and standards.

      Ultimately, Tapardjuk said, the government's goal is to make sure the Inuit
      languages thrive and Inuit are proud to speak their mother tongue.

      The public will have a chance to comment on the proposed laws once they are
      referred to a standing committee for review, assuming the bills get second
      reading.
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