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NTI v GN 2021

Equality rights claim about Inuit language education


Inuit Language and Equality Rights

Since the creation of Nunavut in 1999, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. members have passed numerous annual general meeting resolutions in 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, consistently calling upon the Government of Nunavut to;

  • provide for Inuktut language of instruction from Kindergarten to Grade 12,
  • ensure the education system accorded Inuit parental control over education,
  • ensure curriculum reflected Inuit language and culture,
  • ensure Inuit educators were supported in teacher education, training, hiring and retention

The primary concerns raised from the last public consultations during the 2018 Nunavut-wide community tour were;

  • the lack of Inuit educators, and the lack of support to Inuit in teacher education, training, practicum placement, hiring and retention,
  • the lack of Inuktut curriculum, resources and support to Inuit educators, and inability to develop quality education in Inuit language and culture, including their dialect preferences,
  • barriers to inclusion of Inuit elders as educators,
  • inability of parents and community members to have control and authority over education through district education authorities, and preference to retain their existing authorities (e.g. school programs, inclusive education, principal hiring, calendars etc), and inability to exercise their authorities with limited support and resources,
  • inability of students to succeed in school, post-secondary education, economic and employment opportunities because of social promotion and lack of collaboration on improvements to attendance rates

NTI submitted its’ own Nunavut Education Reform Act in the fall of 2019, as an alternative solution to Bill 25, an Act to amend the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act which was provided to the Government of Nunavut prior to the passing of Bill 25 by the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut in October 2020. The Nunavut Education Reform Act was meant to provide for Inuktut language of instruction from Kindergarten to grade twelve, Inuit control over their own education, authority over Inuktut language and culture curriculum, an Inuit Employment Plan for the Government of Nunavut to educate, train, hire and retain Inuktut-speaking educators, and other measures to improve educational attainment.

The statement of claim asserts that the Government of Nunavut denies equality rights and perpetuates systemic discrimination by;

  1. forcing Inuit students to an education system comprised predominantly in English or French, and denying them education in their own language and culture, and
  2. affecting their ability to achieve educational attainment, and further diminishing their opportunities to post-secondary education, employment and economic participation.

The Parties to the statement of claim are the Commissioner of Nunavut and the Attorney General of Nunavut as representatives of the Government of Nunavut, NTI and Inuit parents of students in the Nunavut public education system.

The statement of claim is pursued in the Nunavut Court of Justice to seek relief of a court-mandated order for the Government of Nunavut to undertake the following specific steps;

  1. develop an implementation plan in consultation with NTI within six months of the court order,
  2. provide Inuit language education from grade 4 to grade 12 within five years of the court order,
  3. report back to the court periodically on the progress of the implementation plan on Inuktut language education

Alternatively, the statement of claims seeks a declaration that the amended pieces of legislation pertaining to provision of Inuit language arts class to the year 2039 discriminate against Inuit parents and students and should no longer be of force or effect.

The GN has thirty days to file a Statement of Defense in response to NTIs Statement of Claim.