Withdraw Bill 37, ITK tells GN

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Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) has received the full weight of support from Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami’s (ITK) board of directors in its call for the Government of Nunavut to withdraw Bill 37.

Bill 37 would see the right of Inuit students to receive a bilingual education in an Inuit language and either English or French deferred for Grades 4 to 9 by a decade and indefinitely for higher grades. It would also reduce local control of education.

ITK’s board is made up of Inuit leaders from all four Inuit land claims organizations and it announced the resolution to support NTI May 30.

“As ITK works towards implementation of the 2011 National Strategy on Inuit Education, Canadian Inuit encourage the Government of Nunavut to show leadership by taking action to curb the Inuktut language erosion and loss we are currently experiencing in Nunavut and across Inuit Nunangat,” stated ITK president Natan Obed in a news release.

“Bilingual Inuktut education from K to 12 is possible, and ambitious legislation that articulates the right of Inuit to be educated in our language is essential.”

NTI president Aluki Kotierk welcomed the news.

“We appreciate the support of Inuit across Canada. Nunavut and Quebec are the only two jurisdictions in Canada with majority official languages that are not English. The Nunavut government is trying to reduce the official language rights of the majority Inuit, something it would never do to the English or French,” she stated.

The Standing Committee on Legislation’s chairperson Tom Sammurtok stated May 5 the committee would recommend Bill 37 be dropped at the Legislative Assembly’s spring sitting.

“Given the overwhelming lack of consensus in support of the bill in such areas as language of instruction, the role of district education authorities and increased employment of Inuit teachers, the standing committee is of the view that it should be allowed to fall off the order paper when the current assembly dissolves later this year,” stated Sammurtok, who tabled those submissions on May 30, the first day of session.

The National Strategy on Inuit Education recommends that jurisdictions implement bilingual education and train bilingual educators as key steps to ensure Inuit cultural continuity and increase educational attainment, according to the ITK release.