Following is from the United Nations:


LOUIS TAPARDJUK, Minister of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth, Minister of Education, Minister of Languages and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Nunavut, Canada, said negotiations between Inuit and the Government had culminated in the signing of one of the most comprehensive land claim agreements entered into by an indigenous people in Canada.  Inuit was the first and preferred language spoken by a majority of Nunavummiut, and for many, the only language they knew.  It was inspiring to know that Kalaallisut, a Greenlandic variety of the Inuit language, was bound to become the official language of Greenland exactly one month from today.

He said that, while experts believed the Inuit language would likely survive the next century, data showed disturbing trends, with its use as a home language in rapid decline and its quality eroding.  In Nunavut and other parts of the country, the language was endangered, as a result of past assimilation policies, attitudes towards the culture as inferior and dominance of English.  While federal resources earmarked for maintaining French and English-speaking minority communities were touted as “indispensable”, there was a persistent lack of resources dedicated to ensuring that Inuit speakers enjoyed equal education and other services.

“This concern is not to be taken lightly”, he said.  Inuit culture and language deserved respect.  Among his policy recommendations, he said acknowledgement of the eroding Inuit culture must drive cooperation among Inuit, international and national bodies to prevent the loss of culture and language.  States with Inuit populations must allocate resources to achieve equality between Inuit speakers and those using national languages.  They should also help raise the national prestige and promote public acceptance of the language by figuring it into nation-building strategies for the Arctic.   

Finally, the Forum should encourage greater interregional, international and intergovernmental cooperation to strengthen the use of Inuit across the Arctic.


Copy of Minister’s statements is available at


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