Nunavut businesses hampered by lack of accredited translators

The private sector's relationship with the Inuit Language Protection Act was the main focus of the 2013-2014 annual report of the Office of the Languages Commissioner of Nunavut.

Languages commissioner to discuss 2013-2014 annual report with regular MLAs Tuesday

Languages Commissioner Sandra Inutiq will answer questions from regular MLAs about her 2013-2014 annual report Tuesday. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

A lack of translators and the absence of an accreditation authority for translators are just a few of the challenges Nunavut's private sector faces when trying to comply with the Inuit Language Protection Act, according to the Office of the Languages Commissioner's 2013-2014 annual report.

Sandra Inutiq will appear before the Standing Committee on Oversight of Government Operations and Public Accounts Tuesday to answer questions about the latest report — her first since taking over as languages commissioner in early 2013.

The private sector's relationship with the Inuit Language Protection Act is the main focus of the report.

Businesses said "the lack of a standardized norm for Inuktut leads many to have doubts about the accuracy of commissioned translations."

The report states while public agencies and government bodies have access to reliable translation services, private businesses have to depend on private translators.

The lack of an accreditation authority for translators means they are of "varying competency."

Businesses also said the decision to use Inuktut from the Nunavut government or the local dialect is "an emotionally-charged one."

The report refers to a Baffin business owner who said, "coming from Kitikmeot, we get corrected on flyers over town, and no one's ever happy with them."

The survey found 76 per cent of businesses were aware of the Inuit Language Protection Act, but many were unsure how to comply with it.

The commission sent out a survey to 100 businesses to find out how aware they were about the law. The response rate was only 17 per cent.

Office sees fewer concerns

The Office of the Languages Commissioner received six concerns in 2013-2014, but only five were admissible. Then the files for two concerns were closed because more information was not brought forward.

The office investigates concerns if there is a potential breach of the Official Languages Act or the Inuit Language Protection Act. In 2012-2013, 15 concerns were registered. 

One concern was from a Francophone organization. It noticed the Department of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs failed to send press releases in French. The organization says they attempted to contact the department many times but never received a response.

EIA has now hired a media and communications coordinator to make sure press releases are sent out in all four official languages simultaneously.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?