Nunavut francophones decry lack of services
- Nunavut francophones decry lack of services
Last updated May 1 2006 09:12 AM CDT
Francophones in Nunavut say they hope a ruling last week in the Northwest
Territories will result in some improvements in services there.
But French speaking residents of Canada's newest territory say while the
situation that prompted the lawsuit is bad in the N.W.T., it's worse in
"Seven years after the creation of Nunavut, we can almost say that there
are no services in French provided by the territorial government," said
Daniel Cuerrier, the director general of the Association des francophones
An N.W.T. Supreme Court justice ruled last week that services offered in
French by the N.W.T. government are inadequate, and ordered the government
to comply with the federal Official Languages Act.
FROM APRIL 25, 2006: ; N.W.T. francophones win language ruling
Cuerrier says Nunavut gets more than $1.4 million from the federal
government to provide services in French, but he doesn't know where the
money is being spent.
"The fact of the matter is the government of Nunavut gets paid to provide
the services in French and it doesn't do it, so there's something very
wrong there," he said.
He says the situation in Nunavut is terrible and the general public has
basically no access to services in French, especially in places like the
hospital, where they need them most.
Cuerrier says his group did not take part in the lawsuit launched by
francophones in the N.W.T., saying French-speaking Nunavummiut want to
work out a solution with the territorial government.
Still, he says a lawsuit will be a last alternative if services don't
Inuit want official language status
Nunavut's commissioner of languages, Johnny Kusugak, says he understands
francophones want better services in their own language but so do Inuit.
He says Nunavut is the only territory or province in the country where
most people speak a language other than French or English. He says it's
about time Ottawa recognized that fact.
"In Nunavut, Inuktitut has to be recognized as one of the three official
languages, Inuktitut meaning that's also Inuinnaqtun," he said.
Inuinnaqtun is a language spoken by Inuit in the western part of the
Kusugak said his office hasn't received any official complaints about a
lack of service, but he wants to meet with the territory's francophone
association to discuss the issue.
In the meantime, Kusugak says Inuit can learn from efforts by francophones
to protect their language, and use their example to protect Inuktitut and