More Inuit working in government, less Inuit language used there: survey – Nunatsiaq News

News  May 31, 2022 – 9:49 am EDT
Deputy minister calls increase in Inuit hires good news, but there’s a long way still to go
A survey done by Statistics Canada covers information such as the amount of Inuit employment in Nunavut government, the amount of Inuit languages spoken at work, and barriers to Inuit employment in government. (File photo)
By David Lochead
While there has been a slight increase in Inuit working in government in Nunavut, there has also been a decrease in the amount of Inuit language used in government workplaces, according to a survey released by Statistics Canada.
“It’s kind of good news … but we do have a long way to go,” said Jimi Onalik, deputy minister for Nunavut’s Department of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs.
The survey, which was released May 27, examines information such as Inuit employment in government, how much Inuktut is spoken at work, and challenges to Inuit employment.
It covers territorial and federal government employees in Nunavut, comparing results from 2016 and 2021.
In 2021, it found, 57 per cent of government employees in Nunavut were Inuit, compared to 52 per cent in 2016.
However, as a part of the Nunavut Agreement, the goal is to reach a level of Inuit employment in government that is representative of Nunavut’s Inuit population aged 15 or older, which Statistics Canada lists as 80 per cent.
In terms of language, 42 per cent of all respondents were comfortable using an Inuit language at work in 2021, up from 36 per cent in 2016.
But in 2021, only 33 per cent of all respondents said they use an Inuit language at work, which is a decline from 38 per cent in 2016. For Inuit respondents, that number was 63 per cent, although the survey does not report how that number compares to 2016.
Onalik said the decline in the use of Inuit languages in the workplace might be part of a broader societal trend in the decline of Inuktut speaking. But, he said, the GN needs to do a better job at encouraging its use, as language is a factor in making the government a more comfortable workplace for Inuit.
“Part of that is the ability to communicate in the language in which you are most familiar and which you are thinking,” he said.
Onalik also wants the GN to hire more permanent employees. According to the survey, approximately two in five government employees did not hold permanent jobs.
“It’s hard to ask employees to commit to you if you’re not willing to commit to them,” Onalik said.
One solution is to speed up the hiring process to ensure more people are hired, he said.
Child care was also a significant challenge cited by survey respondents, as 22 per cent indicated their current child-care arrangements were not good enough.
Onalik said he wasn’t able to work for a year after his son was born, so he understands the need for better child care. But, he added, under the $10-a-day child-care agreement signed with the federal government, those conditions should be improving soon.
He added that the territorial government’s sixth legislative assembly is also focusing on other areas, such as elder care and construction, as a way to improve Inuit employment rates.
Statistics Canada did not respond to Nunatsiaq News’ interview request.
The missing data should be made public. Just because you’re given a job doesn’t mean you’re successful at it.
“ However, as a part of the Nunavut Agreement, the goal is to reach a level of Inuit employment in government that is representative of Nunavut’s Inuit population aged 15 or older, which Statistics Canada lists as 80 per cent.”
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The Nunavut Agreement does not say this. This is a big leap on what it says.
Article 23:
definition: “”representative level” means a level of Inuit employment within Government reflecting the ratio of Inuit to the total population in the Nunavut Settlement Area; this definition will apply within all occupational groupings and grade levels;”
23.2.1: “The objective of this Article is to increase Inuit participation in government employment in the Nunavut Settlement Area to a representative level. It is recognized that the achievement of this objective will require initiatives by Inuit and by Government.”
I agree, the Nunavut Agreement does compel the GN to work toward employment of Inuit at a representative level. The question of time frames is less clear.
The key language that people always gloss over is the requirement for Inuit employment plans to include: “measures consistent with the merit principle” (23.4.2)
If we are just pushing for numerical targets without developing such measures, we are engaged in a crass exercise in quota-filling. We aren’t helping the GN and we aren’t helping Nunavut.
Inuktitut will never be a priority for this government, this government would rather be a carbon copy of a southern government.
We don’t have Inuktitut curriculum, very little materials to teach Inuktitut and the program at Arctic college is flawed for decades now to produce Inuktitut teachers,
in short not a priority. GN has a hard enough time to complete the simplest things and something more complicated like this is over their heads.
I hear more foreign languages at my GN job than I do Inuktitut. We are under represented on a wide scale. There are very few Inuktitut speaking employees in every department causing an unfair work load for those that want to be served in Inuktitut, rightfully so, but it makes the workload way more than those who do not speak Inuktitut and creating resentment towards foreign colleagues in the long run
You must be in health. If so, welcome to the Canadian reality, not unique to Nunavut. Better brush up on your Tagalog!
The best workers I ever had spoke Tagalog, I’ll take them any day over most of the other options
I wrote that original comment, and it was not meant as any sort of insult.
I’m in full agreement with you, Filipino-Canadian Nunavummiut are often some of the best co-workers you’ll ever find.
I feel more comfortable speaking Inuktitut with other Inuit, but some Inuit can not speak Inuktitut even thought they have an Inuk last name.
What an odd way of thinking, and very out of touch with demographic reality.
How many people with Gaelic surnames don’t speak Gaelic.? How many with French surnames don’t speak French? In Nunavut, there are many with very Irish or English surnames who speak fluent Inuktitut – surnames have nothing to do with it.
Surnames have little to do with language ability, and it is amazing to me that there are people who think that way.
Am I reading your comment right, in that, if an Inuk has an Inuk last name, that requires them to speak Inuinnaqtun/Inuktitut?
The language of business in the world is English. Maybe mandarin in Asia. It is not Inuktitut in North America. How can Nunavut be expected to compete on a world stage if the language of business is not English? The fantasy world that some Nunavummuit live in where the entire world will cater to a language spoken by less people than a small town is one that must be hard to live in.
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Teach the language, use the language, just do it at home.
You know have you ever heard of the province of Quebec, French is the main language there, I do not speak Inuktitut but there is nothing wrong with trying to learn it. I am trying but not good at it , so stop peddling English is the main language,
The Province of Quebec goes to extreme lengths, including violating the Charter and Constitution, to protect French, but numbers decrease all the same. I don’t know if you’ve been to Gatineau, Montreal, Quebec City, but when I go there I order my Big Mac in English. And guess what, I get my Big Mac.
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Anyone who thinks there will ever be a day, or that there ever should be a day, where someone walks into a Nunavut hotel, restaurant, or government office and will not be served in English is naiive and unrealistic. 99.8% of business is done in English and people need to get with the program.
Inutituut may be widely spoken at home, that by itsekf does not insure it will thrive in the coming years.
On another important note this is what CBC’s censors black out from its website. Important info behind our involvement in a conflict promoted and created by war mongers.
“Alex Christoforou, Alexander Mercouris at their Duran website have loads of additional info on the European economic and political affairs. And how much of it is brushed over and ignored in the media for purposes other than our need to be knowledgeable and informed.”
Qannurli? Not many speak Inuinnaqtun in one of the major Kitikmeot community, it’s questionable. Getting an Inuinnaqtun interpreter for an Inuk is unreal. I tried applying for one of those cushy, comfortable jobs that I’m experienced in, sitting behind a desk with a big salary. No reply, no acknowledgement letter, no courtesy call, no appeal notice, what’s up with HR too? I suppose they hire only family or friends who have elementary grade level – maybe that’s why I’m excluded.
The relevant Nunavut Agreement objective on Inuit employment is: “Inuit participation in government employment in the Nunavut Settlement Area to a representative level”. Representative level is defined as “a level of Inuit employment within Government reflecting the ratio of Inuit to the total population in the Nunavut Settlement Area”.
There is no over-15-years-of-age caveat, so the target is around 85% not around 80%.
Government employment is defined to also includes municipal staff so the current percentage achieved is probably closer to 67% than 57%
Why is an energy corporation and a housing corporation considered government? If government pays for every construction firm why not count them? Should we also consider NTI government since it is likewise government funded?
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Reading the land claim like you are actually suggests it is not an obligation but some political fluff. Who would ever have intended it to consider child labour? Can the government just pass a law saying that employment is now defined as including being on social assistance as well? They are paid just like employees so maybe the government should get credit for this also.
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Of course this is all nonsense, the land claim really just means try your best to employ the most Inuit possible and that’s it.
Both those public corporations are majority funded directly with public money. And NO don’t listen to the shell-game about the power corp being self-funded. They set outrageous rates that the GN then subsidizes with public money, that is the same as setting reasonable rates and having the GN government core-fund them.
The territory is 85% Inuit, but no one under 15 is working for the GN, Inuk or not.
What does “participation in government employment” even mean? Why would it not just say “government employment”? Is it suggesting the opportunity to participate in government employment, but not the outcome of being employed? Who wrote this cryptic language?
Slight increase? Umm, 10% is not slight, and is something to be applauded.
I think the average non-inuit GN employee feels like cannon fodder. There are many ethnicities represented in the GN work force. Some have put down roots here. Bought a house, had children etc. Even though this reprresentative government is a ways off, what about those people?
“One solution is to speed up the hiring process to ensure more people are hired, he said.”
Perfect, more Direct Appointments and less interviews. Because we’re better off hiring clueless workers than wasting time conducting interviews where the candidate will almost definitely fail. Only in Nunavut can setting workers up for failure be measured as an indicator of success.
The vast majority of possible employees will not, cannot and do not apply for jobs that do not come with staff housing.
That is the stark reality.
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