Your Linguistic Rights

The Official Languages Act for Nunavut recognizes the Inuit (Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun), English and French languages as the official languages within the territory. Click here for a History of Nunavut's Language Laws.

The Inuit language
The Inuit language includes Inuinnaqtun and Inuktitut.

In the 2006 census, 64% of respondents reported using the Inuit Language in the home, even though it is the mother tongue of 83% percent of the population. This represents a 12% decline in ten years. This is partly due to a very large youth population, with a median age in 2006 of 23.1 years, compared to Canada’s media age of 39.5 years.

French
The 2006 Census reported 420 individuals with French as their mother tongue and 1200 claiming to speak it. Nunavut’s capital of Iqaluit is home to a thriving Francophone community. Although close to 800 in Iqaluit reported the ability to speak French, there are many Franco-Inuit families in the city. The French speaking population is served by a school, a daycare, a community radio station, and a cultural centre that is open daily and stages various events throughout the year.

English
English is very prevalent in regional centres and larger communities and is the de-facto language of government and industry.

Language Rights

 Your Language Rights in Nunavut

 The Official Languages Act makes the Inuit, English and French languages, the official languages of Nunavut. The Inuit Language Protection Act seeks to protect and revitalize the Inuit language.

Overview of language rights

In-effect dates yet to be set by Cabinet
  • The services being provided for territorial institutions through third party party contracts
  • Private sector bodies having to provide services in the Inuit language
  • Early childhood education and adult language aquisition and upgrading
  • Specifically, sections 3-5, 9, 10 of ILPA

Concerns over language rights

As a member of the public you can report a concern, either on your own behalf or on behalf of another individual, group or community if:

The Office of the Languages Commissioner can only safeguard language rights when people communicate their concerns.

Inuit Language Protection Act

Inuit Language Protection Act

 This 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. To help Nunavummiut achieve this goal, a new cabinet position of Minister of Languages was created under the act.

 What do I need to know?

 Starting this year, there is the right for parents to have their children receive instruction in the Inuit language if they are in kindergarten to grade three.

 Anything else?

 There will be an obligation for the public and the private sector to offer essential services in the Inuit language. This includes emergency, rescue, health, medical, pharmaceutical, household, residential, and hospitality services (municipalities by 2012). This date is to be decided by cabinet.

 Need More Information?

 For more detailed information on ILPA, please click here.

Language Rights

The Official Languages Act (OLA) recognizes three official languages: Inuit language, English and French. Under this act the following rights are guaranteed:

Municipalities
If there is a significant demand for a service in an official language, the Municipality will have to deliver services in that official language starting in 2012. Significant demand is determined by:

For more information on the Official Languages Act click here.

Who's Who

The Languages Commissioner – who investigates reports of languages rights violations by territorial institutions, municipalities and private sectors in Nunavut; monitors and advises compliance of the Nunavut language acts by territorial institutions, municipalities and the private sector, and promotes and advocates language rights.

Minister of Culture and Heritage – who promotes equality of official languages; takes specific actions to protect and revitalize the Inuit language; consults and prepares a comprehensive plan to implement the legislation; creates measures for evaluating, monitoring, and reporting on implementation results achieved annually by territorial institutions  to the Legislative Assembly.

Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit (Inuit Language Authority) – develops and standardizes the Inuit Language to increase effective communications between Nunavummiut; establishes standard terminology, orthography and language competencies and publishes them;  undertakes own or collaborative research, including documenting dialects and traditional expressions,  and assists the business community and other organizations in providing quality Inuit Language services to the public.

Federal Commissioner of Official Languages - who investigates reports of languages rights violations against federal public sector institutions; monitors and advises on issues of compliance of the Canadian Official Languages Act by federal public sector and Crown corporations which are subject to the Act, and promotes and advocates English and French language rights.