June 14, 2019 – Inuit are one people sharing a common language, Inuktut. The majority of Inuit live in 51 communities throughout Inuit Nunangat. Inuit Nunangat is a distinct geographic, political, and cultural region that makes up nearly one-third of Canada’s landmass and half of its coastline. Eighty-four percent of Inuit in Inuit Nunangat report an ability to speak Inuktut, making Inuit languages the most resilient in Canada.
However, a more complex picture of the status of Inuktut emerges when considering conversational ability and language of the household: 58 percent of Inuit within Inuit Nunangat report being able to speak Inuktut well enough to conduct a conversation, and only 40 percent report that Inuktut is the language used most often at home. Inuktut has official language status in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. In Nunavut, the rights of Inuktut speakers are further affirmed by the Inuit Language Protection Act. Inuktut has official language status in the self-governing region of Nunatsiavut in Newfoundland and Labrador as well.
National legislation is needed to build on existing rights for Inuktut and to complement initiatives advanced by territorial governments and Inuit throughout Inuit Nunangat.
ITK therefore recognizes the positive role national legislation can play in closing statutory and policy gaps that enable continued discrimination against Inuktut speakers.
ITK welcomes the acknowledgement by the Senate of certain amendments recommended by Inuit leadership in a written submission from February 2019. ITK thanks those senators who have fought for Inuit amendments within the committee and legislative processes. It is regrettable that not all of the well-reasoned and thoughtful considerations put forward by Inuit were included by the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. ITK encourages Parliamentarians in the House of Commons to include all Inuit recommendations in consideration of the Senate amendments in the final passage of Bill C-91.