David Joanasie is the Minister of Culture and Heritage and the Minister of Languages for Nunavut.
The Official Languages Division, which is in the Department of Culture and Heritage, has the role of supporting the government departments and agencies in the delivery of services in the official languages of the territory and with regards to the use of the Inuit language as the language of work in the public service. The Division is also responsible for various services and initiatives that aim to promote and protect official languages.
Since 2013, Nunavut’s Language Commissioner has been Sandra Inutiq. “Under the Official Languages Act (OLA) and the Inuit Language Protection Act (ILPA), the Languages Commissioner has a mandate to protect language rights for the Inuit (Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun), French and English language.” As part of her mandate, the Languages Commissioner acts as a voice for Nunavut’s official language groups, and makes sure that the needs, hopes and rights of these groups are understood by territorial institutions, municipalities, the private sector and the public. She receives complaints from the public and can issue recommendations to government and the Legislative Assembly.
The Consolidation of Inuit Language Protection Act stipulates the creation of an Office of the Inuit Language called the Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit. The Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit consists of at least five members appointed by the Commissioner in Executive Council “to expand the knowledge and expertise available with respect to the Inuit Language, and to consider and make decisions about Inuit Language use, development and standardization under this Act.”
Overview of the Laws, Policies and Regulations
The Official Languages Act was adopted in 2008 and went into effect in 2013. It recognizes three official languages: Inuit, English and French. The three official languages of Nunavut have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in territorial institutions and their use is permitted in the debates and proceedings of the Legislative Assembly and before the courts. Under the Act, every territorial institution has the duty to ensure that any member of the public in Nunavut can communicate with and receive available services from its head or central service offices in the official language of their choice. Other offices also have linguistic obligations in terms of communication and the delivery of services to the public if there is a significant demand for communications with and services from that office in both English and French or are justified due to the nature of the office. The Act also stipulates and Official Languages Promotion Fund.
The Act must be reviewed every five (5) years.
The Inuit Language Protection Act of 2008 “is the only Act in Canada that aims to protect and revitalize a first peoples’ language. The aim is to increase the population of Inuit who can speak and read their language fluently.”