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Language and Culture (13-17)

MLA concerned about delivery of Inuit language proficiency test

November 7, 2022

Minister responsible for languages said team is short-staffed, on contract

Uqqummiut MLA Mary Killiktee said Government of Nunavut staff in her community, Qikiqtarjuaq, told her they did not have enough time to prepare for an Inuit language proficiency test. Killiktee added the tests are important and need to be carried out. (Photo by Meral Jamal)

Nunatsiaq News: One MLA is raising her concerns about how Inuit language tests are handled and claims that Government of Nunavut employees in Qikiqtarjuaq were tested without much time to prepare.

“I encourage Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit to ensure it provides good notice in advance of its next visit,” Uqqummiut MLA Mary Killiktee said Friday in the legislative assembly.

Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit, known as IUT, is the authority created by the legislative assembly for Inuit language testing in Nunavut.

A GN employee’s proficiency in an Inuit language is assessed by Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit. Based on employees’ fluency, they can be given an allowance, ranging from $1,500 a year to $5,000 a year.

In response, the minister responsible for languages Joanna Quassa said that a community is informed in advance and is also asked who wants to be tested. She added the team is currently short-staffed.

Killiktee said that even with short-staffing, tests are important. She added that, according to the Minister of Human Resources Margaret Nakashuk, 601 applicants for the language test still need an assessment.

Quassa said there is someone currently on contract to do the proficiency tests. But to do that work, someone needs to be very proficient in the language tested and there are only a few of those people available, she added. “We do support the people who have requested the test and will strive to continue to [hold] the test,” Quassa said.

On the point of having contract workers, Killiktee said she hopes regional dialects are taken into account for language testing. Killiktee added she has heard people who seem to be proficient but do not pass their test, which she believes might have to do with regional differences in dialect. 

Killiktee also asked about the IUT annual reports from 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 since they have not been tabled in the legislative assembly by the minister responsible for languages.

Quassa said those reports are being worked on and will be presented. The delay is because a malware virus in the GN computer system made retrieving information difficult, she added.