Nunavut land claim organization submits complaint to United Nations

NTI alleges Canada has failed to fulfil its obligations to Inuit by not providing essential services in Inuktut.

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Aluki Kotierk, president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., has submitted a formal complaint to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that alleges Canada has failed and continues to fail in its international obligations to Inuit. (Nunatsiaq News file photo)

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. has submitted a formal complaint to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, stating that Canada has failed to fulfil its obligations to Inuit.

The letter from NTI president Aluki Kotierk to Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues within the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, charges that Canada “has failed and continues to fail to fulfil its international obligations in relation to Inuit as an ethnic and linguistic minority under international instruments to which Canada is a signatory.”

In its submission, NTI makes several allegations, including:

  • Canada has been and is in breach of the duty to not discriminate against Inuit.
  • Canada has not taken and is not taking adequate action to ensure the recognition and realization of the Inuit right to receive public education in our Inuktut language.
  • Canada has not taken and is not taking adequate action to ensure the recognition and implementation of the Inuit right to health services in Inuktut.
  • Canada has not taken and is not taking adequate action to ensure the recognition and implementation of the Inuit right of the Inuit to administration of justice in Inuktut.

“Specifically, Canada has failed, and continues to fail, to provide essential services to the Inuit in our first language, Inuktut, including Inuktut language education, health services, administration of justice, and other publicly available government programs and services,” a news release states.

NTI submitted the complaint on May 28.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that human dignity is considered to be the foundation for all human rights. It is time for Canada to recognize its role to protect Inuit lives and linguistic identity. Inuit must again live with dignity,” Kotierk said in the release.

“Nunavut Inuit have suffered harm to their lives, and to the Inuit language and culture, by discriminatory treatment of Inuit through various assimilationist colonial policies and measures, which continues to the present, and Canada’s continued failure to take remedial action to correct this damage,” the release states.

NTI also calls on Canada “to adopt effective legislative and other measures to provide essential services to the Inuit in their first language, to protect Inuit cultural and linguistic identity and to remedy discrimination and other injustices,” the release states.

You can read the full submission here.