On a day when Culture and Heritage Minister David Joanasie cited statistics about a growing number of Inuit language speakers in Nunavut and 82 per cent of Inuit being bilingual, Aggu MLA Paul Quassa took aim at Premier Joe Savikataaq, urging him to make Inuktut the working language of government.
“Does the Premier remember why we got Nunavut or was he just newborn when Nunavut was created?” Quassa said Wednesday. “The government was supposed to run in Inuktitut and people are still expecting it today but still nothing.”
Quassa said Greenland provides a good example to follow.
“When I go to a store in Greenland, they use their language. They operate using their language,” he said. “Does the Premier have to look more at these other jurisdictions? Can he learn from these other jurisdictions so that within Nunavut our government headquarters can run in Inuktitut?”
Savikataaq said Nunavut is unique. He noted that the GN has made money available to train bureaucrats in Inuktitut — although Quassa argued that the government must compel non-Inuktut speakers to provide service in the Inuit language, not make it voluntary.
Savikataaq replied, “If there is no one available to serve in Inuktitut they find someone that can communicate in Inuktitut like nurses, teachers, and pilots… if they want service in Inuktitut they will get service in Inuktitut.”