Nunavut’s government broadens Inuit language incentive program

By Sarah Rogers, Nunatsiaq News - September 25, 2017
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The Government of Nunavut is offering its Inuktut-speaking employees a new incentive it hopes will help promote the use of the Inuit language in the public service.

The government, in partnership with Nunavut’s language authority, Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit, will on Oct. 2 launch its new Inuit Language Incentive Policy, which will pay out an annual bonus to Inuktut-speakers based on their proficiency.

The Government of Nunavut recently approved its new Inuit language incentive program as part of its latest human resources policy. (Nunatsiaq News file photo)
The Government of Nunavut recently approved its new Inuit language incentive program as part of its latest human resources policy. (Nunatsiaq News file photo)

The new policy replaces an existing bilingual bonus the GN has overseen for years, although that bonus was awarded to certain positions rather than to individuals.

A total of 1,345 GN employees received that $1,500 a per year bonus as of mid-September, a Department of Finance spokesperson said.

Presumably even more will be able to apply for an annual allowance based on their proficiency level: employees who are fluent in spoken Inuktut will get $1,500; those who are fluent and can also read and write the language will receive $2,400 and employees considered “language experts” will be eligible for $5,000.

Nunavut’s minister of culture and heritage, George Kuksuk, called the policy a “concrete” example of how the territorial government is working to protect and promote the Inuit language.

“It will help strengthen the use of Inuktut in government workplaces, while sending a clear message to our young people that skills in Inuktut are valued and important for future employment,” said Kuksuk in a Sept. 18 release.

The policy is one of the GN’s obligations under the Inuit Language Protection Act, which requires Nunavut’s institutions make efforts to improve the use of Inuktut and offer relevant services.

The GN is tasked with assessing employees’ language proficiency.

The assessment will include an oral component in which employees will answer questions and engage in conversation, reading comprehension and finally, a writing and multiple-choice component that will require employees to write original content related to a topic.

All employees are eligible to apply to be assessed except for those employed as professional interpreters and translators and members of the Nunavut Teachers Association and Qulliq Energy Corp., which have their own agreements.