Nunatsiavut renames government department to revitalize, protect Inuktitut
The Nunatsiavut government has rebranded one of its departments.
What was once known as Culture, Recreation and Tourism is now Language, Culture and Tourism.
According to a news release, the change was deemed "necessary to reflect a renewed emphasis on promoting, protecting and revitalizing Inuktitut."
Jim Lyall, the minister responsible, told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning that language is one of the most important aspects of Inuit culture.
There's only very few elderly people that are really fluent in the language anymore. And we realize that we have to do something before all those people start dying off on us.- Jim Lyall
"Our language has sort of been dying out — not too many people are fluent anymore — and we want to revitalize it and keep it going," Lyall said.
He said plans to rename the department have been underway for the last two years.
"We want to make sure we're focusing on language more than anything else in our department, and [with] the name change, we want to reflect that — so people know that we take the issue of language very seriously."
Workshop, language summit planned
Lyall said since he's been minister, he's heard from many people who believe their language is important, and something needs to be done to keep it alive.
"And they're a bit worried that it's an important part of our culture, and if we don't do something to preserve it they're just scared it's going to be lost," he said.
"There's only very few elderly people that are really fluent in the language anymore. And we realize that we have to do something before all those people start dying off on us."
One of the strategies is a language summit that's planned for November.
Lyall said translators and interpreters will be involved, with a focus on ways to revitalize the language.
"We'll get some ideas from all the delegates, all the people interested in language," he said.
"Out of that summit, we'll hopefully come up with a strategy on how to move forward. I'm positive that we'll get a lot of good ideas from the summit. We've got something like 60 delegates coming from across Nunatsiavut, as well as Upper Lake Melville and the Canadian constituency."
It's estimated that 26 to 29 per cent of people within Nunatsiavut are fluent speakers of the language. Lyall says the majority of speakers are older people.
With files from Labrador Morning