AngryFrenchGuy

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. Nothing wrong with that, considering how both French and English have abused the Inuits.

    Michel

    September 19, 2008 at 9:16 pm

  2. Bravo to the Inuit! They’ve got their work cut out for them but this is nonetheless a very positive development for human cultural diversity in this part of the world.

    Acajack

    September 19, 2008 at 9:51 pm

  3. Question! Nunavut is a part of Quebec?

    new quebecois

    September 19, 2008 at 10:17 pm

  4. No genius….Nunavut is up north.

    Kriss

    September 19, 2008 at 10:25 pm

  5. I have no problem with this…I think they are trying to preserve the language…I deal with a lot of aboriginal communications authorities in Western Canada where we have built broadcast networks for the expansion and preservation of Cree, Dene and other native langauges.

    The differenc is, these folks are protecting their languages and not forcing them on others as programs such as the OLA is doing with French in Canada.

    Good for them.

    There is a big difference…

    ABP

    ABP

    September 19, 2008 at 10:29 pm

  6. ABP…can you read?
    “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.”

    Kriss

    September 19, 2008 at 11:02 pm

  7. AFG writes:

    “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.”

    AFG, which “self-righteous language activists” are you referrring to? Please be kind enough to name them for us.

    T.K.

    September 20, 2008 at 12:33 am

  8. You, Tony.

    My feeling is that if you moved to Nunavut, you would talk about the racist Inuits trampling all over your rights as well (this time, the word ‘racist’ that anglos/allos in quebec love to throw around would actually be used correctly too; there actually is a difference in skin color generally in Nunavut). However, you probably never will move to Nunavut, so you will probably give your verbal support for such a law just to spite anyone on this forum.

    But before, you were defending their rights to support your argument for using English in Quebec, a place where the ‘other’ language is still very much alive, but under serious threat of English. I realize I am being presumptuous about you, but my feeling is that I am not far from the truth either, which compells me to write on this.

    From what this post says, it looks like this is very similiar to la loi 101 except that a large portion of the population of Canada lives in Quebec and a rather small one in Nunavut, so I think people will be less bothered by Nunavut’s loi 7 because they won’t ever have to deal with it. In Quebec, it’s much more likely that they will and we all know that if you have to “force” an anglophone to learn a foreign language, you might as well sound the genocide alarms.

    En passant, j’ai mon CSQ!

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    September 20, 2008 at 12:19 pm

  9. Thomas wrote:

    “But before, you were defending their rights to support your argument for using English in Quebec.”

    What I did before was point out that if we’re going to allow language legislation to violate individual rights because a language is “threatened” that there are dozens of aboriginal languages in Canada that are way more threatened than French is and, therefore, French should be way at the back of the line when it comes to providing ANY kind of governmental support for a language.

    My stand on languages is that if people want to speak a language, they should be able to freely choose to speak it or not speak it without any coersion on the part of government.

    I used the word “racist” to specifically describe the regime of discrimination employed by Bill 101 in its language of education provisions which I documented (quite thoroughly, I might add).

    If the people of Nunavat can preserve and promote their language in a way that doesn’t violate individual rights and freedoms, why should I object? Does Bill 7 do that? I’ve glanced at it but haven’t had time to read the whole thing, so I don’t have an opinion on that yet.

    If, after I’ve read it, it turns out that it is unduly influenced by Bill 101 then I will give my opinion.

    T.K.

    September 20, 2008 at 12:44 pm

  10. Bravo, Nunavut!

    Éric Grenier

    September 20, 2008 at 3:05 pm

  11. Oh my god, you take the cake, Tony!

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    September 20, 2008 at 8:00 pm

  12. Quelle bonne idée. Bravo le Nunavut!

    ClaudeB

    September 21, 2008 at 2:56 am

  13. Wow. Nunavut passes a language law not dissimilar from Quebec’s and a few days later this news has generated all of… 5 articles in Google News!

    When you consider all of the ink spilt in the ROC media on Quebec’s language laws, this is nothing short of astonishing. I guess after ragging on Quebec about Bill 101 for three decades, and often using aboriginals as pawns in their tirades against French-speaking Quebecers, the ROC media are lying low on this one; perhaps Nunavut has thrown them for a loop with this law.

    I suppose it’ll take them a little bit of time to figure out how they’re going to cover this.

    Acajack

    September 21, 2008 at 9:42 am

  14. “The differenc is, these folks are protecting their languages and not forcing them on others as programs such as the OLA is doing with French in Canada.

    Good for them.

    There is a big difference…

    ABP”

    In spite of appearances, there is actually no real correlation with Quebec’s provincial language policies like Bill 101 and the federal Official Languages Act. No Quebec government has ever asked for more French in Yorkton, Sask.

    Federal official language policies that have made French more present in areas of the ROC where there are next to no francophones are a direct result of the federal government’s obsession with propping up (or “not abandoning”) the anglo minority in Quebec, a propping up which could not be done without at least some token reciprocal nods to French in the ROC.

    The underlying spirit behind Quebec’s Bill 101 is called “language territoriality” (similar to Switzerland and other multilingual countries), or more simply, a pretty much French-only Quebec and an English-only ROC. It’s only been partially achieved within Quebec because the feds have never wanted to go along with this because it would mean *abandoning* Anglo-Quebec, which is politically unthinkable to them.

    Acajack

    September 21, 2008 at 9:49 am

  15. Acajack,

    “Wow. Nunavut passes a language law not dissimilar from Quebec’s and a few days later this news has generated all of… 5 articles in Google News!”

    that is because aboriginals get treated with kid gloves in English Canada. There is always some latent hostility to francophones.

    It is still amazing that you still believe that Quebec should be part of Canada. Why? What benefit does it give to the francophones to be subject to an overbearing and paternalistic Canada.

    antonio

    September 21, 2008 at 9:59 am

  16. “It is still amazing that you still believe that Quebec should be part of Canada. Why?”

    Actually, I’ve got to admit my immediate gut reaction to this news is that it just might make Canada more “workable”.

    If this could nudge the canadian federation towards the more fair and proven notion of territoriality (Switzerland has 800 years of peaceful cohabitation proving that might be the best way to run a multilingual country) and real multiculturalism, Canada just got more attractive.

    We’ll see how this changes the game. But Québec will no longer be the only odd man out. This is huge.

    angryfrenchguy

    September 21, 2008 at 11:29 am

  17. Very few comments on the CBC news page too :
    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/north/story/2008/09/19/nunavut-laws.html#socialcomments

    Methink this news item has induced a generalized state of cognitive dissonance in the ROC

    Égrevisse

    September 21, 2008 at 1:27 pm

  18. “In spite of appearances, there is actually no real correlation with Quebec’s provincial language policies like Bill 101 and the federal Official Languages Act. No Quebec government has ever asked for more French in Yorkton, Sask.

    What do you think Duceppe, Marois and other politicians would say if the feds scaled back the expensive OLA and imperatives in other parts of Canada??

    You point about protecting Anglos in Quebec is well taken but most of the OlA’s money and imperatives are spent on French Acajack…Very little spent on the furthering english in a unilingual french province.

    Actually, it was brought in to try and appease the separatist movement. Failed at that and failed at everything else it was supposed to be except in one area. it didn’t fail in consuming 100’s of billions of taxpayers dollars.

    “a pretty much French-only Quebec and an English-only ROC.”

    Exactly how it should be and in fact…two separate countries and there would be no more problems.

    ABP

    ABP

    September 21, 2008 at 6:00 pm

  19. Here is my take on things, I think the Greeks in Chomedy Laval and the Italian in St-Leonard need Greek and Italian only language laws. Their languages are being threatened in North America they are a minority. They represent less then .0001% of the north American population and without language protection their language will die. The Greeks and Italians(Romans) have been around before the English and French hence their heritage is more critical to remain alive In North America. Time for Bill Italia Greco 102.

    Do you see how ridiculous it sounds??? Well that’s how you sound to us

    Angryphone

    September 22, 2008 at 8:19 am

  20. No, Angryphone. Italian and Greek are not functional and societal languages in North America. Name one city where I can move to and live in Greek/Italian, get a job in Greek/Italian, send my kids to school in those languages, and speak to people on the street anywhere in my city in those languages?

    Don’t YOU see the difference?

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    September 22, 2008 at 8:42 am

  21. “Here is my take on things, I think the Greeks in Chomedy Laval and the Italian in St-Leonard need Greek and Italian only language laws. Their languages are being threatened in North America they are a minority. They represent less then .0001% of the north American population and without language protection their language will die. The Greeks and Italians(Romans) have been around before the English and French hence their heritage is more critical to remain alive In North America. Time for Bill Italia Greco 102.

    Do you see how ridiculous it sounds??? Well that’s how you sound to us”

    Angryphone, you are living proof that one can easily reach adulthood in this country with absolutely no historical knowledge whatsoever.

    Acajack

    September 22, 2008 at 8:44 am

  22. AFG

    “If this could nudge the canadian federation towards the more fair and proven notion of territoriality (Switzerland has 800 years of peaceful cohabitation proving that might be the best way to run a multilingual country) and real multiculturalism, Canada just got more attractive.”

    Even if English Canada would suddenly become friendly and permit Quebecers any kind of measures to protect French in Quebec, it would never work for other reasons.

    The demographic characteristics of Canada show that it would never be like Switzerland. Switzerland works because it is a country composed of four equally strong and secure minorities working together. Canada has a strong English majority and a weak and getting weaker French minority. As long as Quebec continues to participate in a Canada-wide federation, the law of numbers indicate that most of the influence and power would come from English Canada and this often goes against at the interests of Quebec. As an example, remember Trudeau and how he was able to pass the Constitution Act with the support of English Canada but not Quebec?

    Quebec says that it has the Bloc to work for Quebec interests. While it is true that the Bloc has been a bulwark for Quebec in federal politics but this cannot last forever since the Bloc cannot get power. Sooner or later it would be wise for Quebec to influence the federal scene by voting for a pan-Canada party. But this has limits because as the history of Confederation shows, these Canada-wide parties are more likely to listen to the English majority interests against the interests of Quebec.

    An independent Quebec would give francophones power to manage their own affairs as they see fit. This would transform the Francophones from a very small minority to a majority. There is no advantage to remaining in Canada. The only option is a completely decentralized Canada with only an economic union between provinces, but it would still be better to have an economic union with the rest of the world like NAFTA and free trade with the EU, China and India. As far as Quebec is concerned, there is no need for Canada.

    antonio

    September 22, 2008 at 8:49 am

  23. ABP:

    You are right that Duceppe and Marois and BQ and PQ types would scream bloody murder if federal official languages legislation was scaled back. That’s not because they think it’s perfect, but because it represents a bare minimum of French in the federal government, which does have extensive jurisdiction over the lives of Quebecers. And given how much finger-pointing about language we see in this country, you’re darn tootin’ that they’re going to ask people to walk the walk on bilingualism if they’re going to be patting themselves on the back for how great things are for francophones.

    Plus, they (and many others) are lucid enough to know that if federal bilingualism ever got scaled back, it’s certainly not in English services in Quebec that the biggest difference would be felt, let me tell ya.

    As I mentioned previously, official bilingualism may have brought in partly to appease separatism, but it was also just as important (if not more) for the feds to entrench anglo rights in Quebec as much as possible given that everyone expected them to take a significant hit from the Quebec provincial government in the 1970s.

    Acajack

    September 22, 2008 at 8:53 am

  24. “The demographic characteristics of Canada show that it would never be like Switzerland. Switzerland works because it is a country composed of four equally strong and secure minorities working together. Canada has a strong English majority and a weak and getting weaker French minority.”

    It’s the constitutional setup in Switzerland that is different, not the demographics.

    The four Swiss groups are not equally strong demographically. One, the Romansh group, is actually quite weak and has no real language territoriality. Its situation might be equated to that of francophones in Manitoba, or Acadians in Nova Scotia.
    French speakers in Switzerland have language territoriality and are around 18% of the population, whereas Italian speakers, who also have a linguistic “safe zone” are just under 10%. The balance of the Swiss are German speakers or course. Their regions are also unilingual.

    Even the French speakers in Switzerland are a smaller proportion of their country’s population that francophones are in Canada. They are also numerically a much smaller group: 1.75 million francophones in Switzerland vs. 6 or 7 million francophones in Canada. Of course, the French-speaking Swiss are right up against 60 million francophones in France, but they don’t share a political entity with them.

    When one counts native speakers, Canada has by far the second-largest francophone population in the world. (Behind France of course.)

    Acajack

    September 22, 2008 at 9:13 am

  25. “If this could nudge the canadian federation towards the more fair and proven notion of territoriality (Switzerland has 800 years of peaceful cohabitation proving that might be the best way to run a multilingual country) and real multiculturalism, Canada just got more attractive.
    We’ll see how this changes the game. But Québec will no longer be the only odd man out. This is huge.”

    I’ve been holding out for this… it seems like forever. And when Nunavut was created in 1999 I actually thought hopefully at first that it might lead to something like this. It took so much time (9 1/2 years) that I had pretty much forgotten about it, but they finally did it.

    On the other hand, as AFG’s telephone tour of Liberal campaign offices in Montreal has shown, it always seems to be: “one step forward, two steps back”.

    Acajack

    September 22, 2008 at 9:20 am

  26. Acajack,

    “When one counts native speakers, Canada has by far the second-largest francophone population in the world. (Behind France of course.)”

    Only in absolute numbers and with the vast majority of them concentrated in Quebec. If Quebec would become independent, it would be the second largest francophone country in the world. Canada would be insignificant as a francophone nation without Quebec. I am willing to bet that the absolute and relative percentage of these native French speakers in the rest of Canada excluding Quebec would far less than in those in Switzerland? In fact, it would be negligible.

    Also, relatively-speaking, Belgium, not Canada, has the second largest francophone population; about 40% of Belgians speak French. It is the relative numbers that count because they determine influence in politics which are important.

    antonio

    September 22, 2008 at 9:30 am

  27. “Only in absolute numbers and with the vast majority of them concentrated in Quebec. If Quebec would become independent, it would be the second largest francophone country in the world. Canada would be insignificant as a francophone nation without Quebec. I am willing to bet that the absolute and relative percentage of these native French speakers in the rest of Canada excluding Quebec would far less than in those in Switzerland? In fact, it would be negligible.

    Also, relatively-speaking, Belgium, not Canada, has the second largest francophone population; about 40% of Belgians speak French. It is the relative numbers that count because they determine influence in politics which are important.”

    I can’t really argue with any of this. However, I still maintain my point about francophones and italophones in Switzerland. Why is it that they are less numerous percentage-wise (slightly in the case of francophones and much less in the case of italophones) than Canadian francophones yet they seem to have “language security” whereas even Quebec here apparently does not? It is true that the three main Swiss groups “back onto” much larger states (Germany, France, Italy) where their languages are also used (while Quebec is next to the U.S.), but that isn’t usually what makes a difference between survival and oblivion (witness the decline of German in Alsace-Lorraine, despite being right on the border, or French in the areas of the U.S. bordering Quebec and NB). The fact that Geneva is close to France or Lugano close to Italy doesn’t change much when people from Lugano and Geneva are sharing federal Swiss institutions with German speakers from Zurich and Basel that are much more numerous…

    Acajack

    September 22, 2008 at 9:44 am

  28. T.K.:
    “What I did before was point out that if we’re going to allow language legislation to violate individual rights because a language is “threatened” that there are dozens of aboriginal languages in Canada that are way more threatened than French is and, therefore, French should be way at the back of the line when it comes to providing ANY kind of governmental support for a language.”

    What about English?

    Acajack

    September 22, 2008 at 9:51 am

  29. For everyone congratulating Nunavut on protecting Inuktitut, how would you feel about these same laws for the same language in Nunavik, on Quebec territory?

    “If this could nudge the canadian federation towards the more fair and proven notion of territoriality…”

    AFG, could you please elaborate on what a “more fair” notion of territoriality is? Thanks.

    AM

    September 22, 2008 at 10:22 am

  30. “For everyone congratulating Nunavut on protecting Inuktitut, how would you feel about these same laws for the same language in Nunavik, on Quebec territory?”

    Inuit, Naskapi and Cree territories in Québec are already exempt from most of bill 101. The Inuit, by the way, don’t live on federal reservations.

    If the Inuit of Nunavik wished to enact stronger legislation to protect their language, I would support them 100%

    French is not much of a factor up north. Inuktitut is losing ground to English.

    angryfrenchguy

    September 22, 2008 at 10:42 am


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