Paging Galganov! Canada’s Got a New Native Language Police!

with 78 comments

In a move sure to confuse the hell out of some self-righteous language activists in Canada who try to justify their opposition to Québec’s language laws by claiming to be fighting for the rights of native canadians, Nunavut’s lawmakers unanimously adopted their own version of bill 101 yesterday.

The citizens of Nunavut adopted a Language Law inspired by Québec’s French Language Charter in order to protect the rights of the citizens of the booming territory to live and work in their own language.

The law, Bill 7, will make Inuktitut mandatory in all schools and it will become the language of work in the public service by 2011.

The law includes the creation of the Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit a.k.a. the Inuit Language Authority and of a Language Commissioner.  This commissioner will have “investigative tools for securing the compliance of the public and private sector organizations that have not had Inuit Language duties in the past”, including taking matters to the courts.

Unlike the Office Québécois de la Langue Française which can only act upon citizen complaints, the Nunavut Language Commissioner will have the power to initiate investigations.  Fines for violators of the law could be as high as 5 000$ for individuals and 25 000$ for organizations.

From now on all signs, inclusing those of a commercial nature, will have to be in Inuktitut and the Inuktitut will have to be of at least equal size to any other language used.  Businesses will also be legally required to be able to serve all customers who demand it in the Inuit language.

According to the Canadian Press, although 91% of Inuit said they could speak the Inuit language, only 64% used it at home, a dramatic 10% drop in only 12 years.

Written by angryfrenchguy

September 19, 2008 at 9:09 pm

78 Responses

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  1. Thomas:

    the reason I invoked the non-equality of francophones versus anglophone immigrants issue is that we were initially talking about what, if anything, the federal government had done for Quebec anglos. Someone then invoked article 23 as evidence of something “good” the feds had done. I therefore showed that the opposite was the case.


    September 23, 2008 at 11:36 am

  2. Acajack:

    My intention is NOT to say you don’t know what you were talking about regarding francophone schools outside Quebec but, rather, that you were addressing something different than what I was, which was the non-equality of article 23.1.a of the Canadian Charter.

    As I said in an earlier post: I am more than willing to concede that there is an inequality in funding between Quebec anglos and ROC francophones if the reasons I suggested for the inequality aren’t legitimate (e.g. rural versus urban). I simply don’t know enough about it to have an informed opinion on the matter. The reasons I gave were obviously speculative.

    I would, however, like to take a look at the study that you said came to this conclusion. Do you have a name for it? Or a link?


    September 23, 2008 at 11:42 am

  3. “I would, however, like to take a look at the study that you said came to this conclusion. Do you have a name for it? Or a link?”

    The study was called « Où sont passés les milliards? » and was commissioned by the Commission nationale des parents francophones.

    A summary of the report is here:

    When the report came out, it was greeted with some embarrassment in Ottawa, and the perceived imbalance was apparently rectified soon thereafter.


    September 23, 2008 at 12:01 pm

  4. Acajack writes:

    “…the perceived imbalance was apparently rectified soon thereafter.”

    So, what’s the problem then?


    September 23, 2008 at 6:12 pm

  5. T.K.: “So, what’s the problem then?”

    How about 17 years of inequity (actually 17 years is just the tip of the iceberg, and what the study focused on) and the hundreds of millions of dollars those communities should have gotten and will never get back?

    How about countless hours of volunteer work spent by francophone parents fighting for basic, fair treatment that should have been a given, time that they could’ve been spending with their kids?


    September 23, 2008 at 9:45 pm

  6. Acajack

    “the Meech Lake Accord was largely torpedoed politically because certain important people were afraid of what the evil Québécois francophone majority would do their anglo neighbours if ever they got their hands on the distinct society clause…”

    instead of anglo _neighbours_, i’d say anglo _kinsmen_ (it’s ethnic bonding, really) which explains the lack of sympathy that the english minority in Quebec has for the french minority in the ROC…you’d think that their seemingly “similar” situation would lead to collaboration, common standpoints…pfff….


    September 26, 2008 at 5:59 am

  7. Égrevisse,

    When I said “anglo neighbours” I was actually referring to the “anglo neighbours of the francophone Québécois”. But I do agree 100% with your “anglo kinsmen” observation.

    Initially, when francophones outside Quebec starting getting uppity about their rights in the 1960s, they made approaches to the Anglo-Quebec community however they were never able to find any common ground. Perhaps it’s because though their causes may appear to be analogous, deep down they’re not really fighting for the same thing.

    The Parti Québécois government of René Lévesque actually offered “reciprocity” to the ROC provinces in the 1970s, in order to entrench the rights of francophones outside Quebec and those of Anglo-Quebecers on an identical level, but that one didn’t fly…

    Even here, when I point out the blatant discrepancies between the rights of the two groups, all I get is “it’s not the same, it’s just NOT the same!” or “I don’t give a damn about francophones outside Quebec, we’re talking about English in Quebec and that’s all that matters!”


    September 26, 2008 at 8:48 am

  8. Case in point, Sweet Fall’s post in another thread :

    “Just to say that I, with many another anglo outside Quebec, would be prepared to pick up a rifle and head to the war zone if the English were getting crushed in Montreal.”

    Willing to rush to the aid of his anglo kinsmen… but doesn’t give a flying fuck about the minorities in his home province.

    The Orange Order lives on…


    September 26, 2008 at 6:10 pm

  9. What a lot of blather! And very little said about the First Nations. Don’t they have a right also to preserve their languages and cultures?

    The First Nations were obliged by both the French and English to forego their languages and cultures.

    I find it ironic that the Quebecois, ( who, aware or not, forced aboriginals to abandon their language and culture), are the focus of this post.

    I’m a son of France, born in England, who finds this obsession with Quebecois rather irritating considering how First Nations are actually treated in the province.

    Preserving French is a joke here. Most Quebecois speak bad Freench, poorly enunciated with bad grammar and diction. Most are probably illiterate in “real French”. So, what is being preserved is a bastard child of peasant French.

    And, having wiped out the right of First Nations to have their own language and culture, they point with pride at Nunavuk, which suffered from the condescension of both Quebecois and Anglo towards them as if Inuits, who have survived in the area for millenia, were stupid and needed their help. Meanwhile, the Iroquois and Mohawks and other tribes are having a hard, very hard, time trying to save their children from the banal, idiotic, and devasting “culture” forced on them through the media.

    Grow up.


    September 28, 2008 at 2:16 pm

  10. “I’m a son of France, born in England”

    So you have garlic breath and bad teeth?


    September 28, 2008 at 3:38 pm

  11. Am I the only one to notice that the French, when they integrate or assimilate in other cultures, become more, not less obnoxious?


    September 28, 2008 at 4:22 pm

  12. Nice. What blatant snobbery on your part, Michel.

    “They don’t speak real French.” And I guess I don’t speak real English, being in Minnesota and not having been lucky enough to have been born in the mother country. We say things like “ooof-da” and “you-betcha” here. What a bastardization. (oh, and I spell bastardization with a “z” and not “s”!! It’s a wonder I can even make myself understood by Brits!)

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    September 29, 2008 at 8:33 am

  13. Hope you’re not trying to make friends here Michel…

    In any event, it doesn’t really matter whether people in Quebec speak “real French” or whether it’s 70, 80 or 90% similar to the French spoken in France. (Actually, people who actually know what they are talking about like linguists say the two languages are more than 95% identical.) But that’s neither here nor there: people in Quebec could speak Michif or Flemish or Swahili or Malay. What matters is the fact that that’s what pretty much everyone speaks here, as they have for many centuries. So imposing any other language on them, be it English or German or Japanese, is morally just that: an imposition.

    Regarding the aboriginal languages, I agree with you 100%. In the handful of areas of Quebec where French endangers an aboriginal language, use of French should be curtailed in order to allow the aboriginal languages to survive. But that “prise de conscience” has to come from the aboriginal communities themselves. I cannot make that decision for them. I can only assure them of my support if and when they themselves decide that that’s what their language needs to survive, like the Inuit have just done.

    Now, presuming that you are living in North America and chose to move to this part of the world that was originally inhabited by aboriginal peoples, what have you done to learn the aboriginal languages that are native to the region of the continent where you have pitched your tent? My (admittedly lame) excuse is that I at least was born here, as were many generations of my forebears (including, no doubt, some who were aboriginals). If indeed you are living on the North America continent, Michel, you chose voluntarily to come here. So what’s your excuse for not learning Mohawk or Blackfoot?


    September 29, 2008 at 10:00 am

  14. Pshew. You seldom see a language get slammed as often as North American French does, and it gets it in the neck from both francos and anglos both on this blog and elsewhere. When are we going to get over the idea that there are “good” and “bad” varieties of any language? Instead, why don’t we non French speakers drop the attitudes we have learned from amateur linguists and instead try to learn the speech patterns of Québec French, or Joual, or whatever, so that we can communicate with its speakers better? And mark me down for one vote for more instruction in North American French for anglos in North America.


    September 30, 2008 at 4:33 pm

  15. This is great. Bravo to the Inuit! =D


    October 1, 2008 at 12:53 am

  16. This thinking is also present in francophone Quebec society. Whenever the issue of the linguistic integration of immigrants is raised, there are always a bunch of letters in the papers saying that the reason many immigrants don’t bother to learn French is because the Québécois speak it so brutally.

    Of course, this is a load of bull. As many here have pointed out, the language in English-speaking North America ain’t anywhere near the Queen’s English, but that ain’t gonna keep newcomers to Chicago or Calgary from learnin’ to speak it good.

    Language adoption is all about power – economic, political, etc., and has nothing to do with proper syntax and grammar.


    October 1, 2008 at 8:37 am

  17. “Preserving French is a joke here. Most Quebecois speak bad Freench, poorly enunciated with bad grammar and diction. Most are probably illiterate in “real French”.”

    You know what they say:

    a language is a dialect with a gun….

    I’ve heard many english speaking people here and there in Canada that no British could understand. So what? Too bad for the Brits.


    October 1, 2008 at 4:24 pm

  18. Poor little AngryFrenchGuy. Bill 7 makes Iniut a mandatory language while doing business, but it doesn’t prohibit other languages like la loi 101 does. It doesn’t prohibit other languages on commercial signs, and nothing in the law states that businesses cannot talk to each other in another language of their choice if they so wish. No matter how hard you try, you will never convince us Anglos that Bill 101 is a hate, racist law that was enacted to linguistically cleanse the English minority. Outright genocide, essentially. nice try, though


    March 31, 2011 at 1:00 am

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