Make Inuktitut official language in Canada, says Inuit rep on UN task force

Make Inuktitut official language in Canada, says Inuit rep on UN task force

OTTAWA — Canada is to spearhead a 10-year drive by the United Nations to revive and protect worldwide Indigenous languages, including endangered tongues such as Michif, the Métis language.

Aluki Kotierk, Inuit representative on a UNESCO task force set up to mark a decade of Indigenous languages, says she wants Canada to set an example by making Inuktitut an official national language alongside English and French.

The global task force, which will continue until 2032, includes Inuit, First Nations and Métis representatives from Canada.

The representatives said they wanted to see more action to ensure Indigenous languages are more widely spoken in Canada and taught in schools.  

A spokeswoman for Pablo Rodriguez, the heritage minister, says the government is planning initiatives to promote and revitalize Indigenous languages, and to raise awareness of their “critical loss.”

Most of the 90 Indigenous languages in Canada identified by UNESCO are endangered.

Kotierk, president of the Inuit representative body for treaty rights and negotiations, says Canada should make Inuktitut an official language to ensure schooling and other services in the Inuit tongue is a right in Nunavut.

Around 70 per cent of Nunavut’s population speak Inuktitut and it is recognized as an official language in the territory, though most schools are English.  

Kotierk and Nunavut’s MP Lori Idlout say Inuit children have the right to be educated in their own language.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2022.

The Canadian Press