The Canadian government has decided to approve Nunavut's proposal to declare Inuktitut, English and French its official languages.
The territory's Official Languages Act was passed by Nunavut's politicians last June, but it needed final approval from the federal government before it could become law.
The move has cleared the way for the 10-year-old, mainly Inuit territory to push ahead with its aggressive language protection agenda, which also includes a new Inuit Language Protection Act that will come into effect on July 1.
That law, which the Nunavut Minister of Cultural Affairs Mr. Tapardjuk had said was partly inspired by Quebec's strict language law, Bill 101, will require the Inuit language on all signs and for all services, both public and private. Most street signs in the massive but sparsely populated territory of 31,500 are already written in English and Inuktitut.
Mr. Tapardjuk said the territory's language laws "will protect and promote the Inuit language in a most significant way," while still "ensuring respect and protection of the rights" of its French and English speakers.
While Inuktitut is considered one of Canada's healthiest aboriginal languages (more than half of Canada's 30,000 Inuit report the language as their mother tongue), it still needs to be fiercely guarded and nurtured, according to Nunavut's Languages Commissioner Alexina Kubla.
She said the "pervasiveness" of English in Nunavut, including the media and on the Internet, is a growing concern in a territory where about 60 per cent of the population is under the age of 25.
"Many of us have watched with sadness the declining use of the Inuit language," Ms. Kubla said. "Now we have a chance to reverse this trend and to assert our language rights, along with the rights of French and English speakers."
SOURCE : Arctic Council