Federal gov't promises millions to Nunavut, N.W.T. for Indigenous language services

Between now and 2020, the federal government will give $19.6 million to the N.W.T., and $15.8 million to Nunavut to support Indigenous languages.

N.W.T. will receive $19.6M; Nunavut will get $15.8M to support and preserve Indigenous languages

Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Alfred Moses (left), N.W.T. MP Michael McLeod (centre), and Nunakput MLA Herbert Nakimayak (right) at a news conference Friday. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

The federal government has promised millions to Nunavut and the Northwest Territories to support and preserve Indigenous language services until 2020.

In an announcement made in Yellowknife on Friday, the federal government promised $19.6 million for the N.W.T., and $15.8 million for Nunavut. The funding comes from the 2016 federal budget, according to the office of the minister of Canadian Heritage.

"There is no relationship more important to our government than the one with Indigenous peoples," said Mélanie Joly, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, in a news release.

The money will go toward community radio stations and schools for on-the-land programs in the N.W.T. A part of the funding will also go directly to Indigenous governments, which will decide how it should best be spent.

In Nunavut, the funding will act "to remedy the decline of Inuktitut" and help its government meet the requirements of the Official Languages Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act, according to Minister of Languages George Kuksuk.

Languages in 'serious trouble'

"In the N.W.T., we have some languages that are in very serious trouble," said the N.W.T.'s Member of Parliament Michael McLeod at the announcement.

"Some languages will become nonexistent in a short period of even 10 years," he said, pointing to the Gwich'in language needing the most support.

Joly called the support "unprecedented," adding that the federal government will continue efforts to support Indigenous languages across Canada.

With files from Kate Kyle, Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi