Grand Theft Anglo: the English take-over of Iqaluit and the decline of Inuktut - Derek Rasmussen

10:00 AM, Sunday 6 Oct 2019 (30 minutes)
Nunavut is the only jurisdiction in Canada that has a homogeneous language spoken by the taxpaying majority that is other than French or English. 70% speak Inuktut as their mother tongue.

Nunavut is the only jurisdiction in which almost none of the policing, schooling or health care is done in the majority language. Coroners have cited lack of Inuktut as a factor in at least two recent deaths in the health system. Almost all schooling and curricula are English; unsurprisingly approximately 70% of the 9600 Inuit students drop out. And the present government is currently passing laws to suspend or postpone Inuit language rights.

Why is this happening? This paper will help explain the legal and economic forces that are fueling the rise of English and the 1% per year decline of Inuktut, and what measures may be taken to reverse losses. One key is Federal Charter equality for Inuktut, alongside English and French, within Nunavut.

Also crucial to this understanding are the motivations and make-up of what Pitseolak Pfeiffer has called Nunavut’s “temporary foreign workers”: those 75% of government’s middle and senior managers who are non-Inuit, primarily English speaking. Residing in the territory for an average of two years or less (Price Waterhouse), these managers draft the bills, briefing notes, and budgets that determine the fate of the people and language that they leave behind. The median income difference between them and the long-term population is huge: non-Inuit median income in 2016 was $101,494. For Inuit? $22,523.

Simon Fraser University
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