Unprecedented Support for Indigenous-Language Services in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut

News Release

YELLOWKNIFE, May 26, 2017

Michael V. McLeod, Member of Parliament (Northwest Territories), on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, today announced that agreements have been ratified with the governments of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut to support the preservation of Indigenous languages. The announcement was made alongside the Honourable Alfred Moses, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment of the Northwest Territories.

These agreements, with a total of $19.6 million for the Northwest Territories and $15.8 million for Nunavut, cover the period from 2016 to 2020 and were made possible by new funding in Budget 2016. While the Government of Canada has supported the preservation of Indigenous languages in the territories for more than three decades, the level of support reached in these agreements is unprecedented.

Negotiations and ratification of these agreements took place over the course of 2016–17 and are part of the federal government’s commitment to provide increased support for Indigenous languages.


“There is no relationship more important to our government then the one with Indigenous peoples. That is why we are proud to take concrete measures to protect and preserve Indigenous languages. The unprecedented level of support for Indigenous-language services in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut announced today is just one way that our government is living up to this important commitment. We will continue our efforts to support Indigenous languages across the country.”

—The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage

“In the Northwest Territories, there are many partners working together to focus our efforts to build a strong foundation for the preservation and revitalization of Indigenous languages. We are focused on ensuring the cultural identity of the North will thrive for generations to come. Language plays a critical role in identity, and with the new agreement in place, we will be able to further support and enhance the excellent work already underway in our language communities.”

—The Honourable Alfred Moses, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Government of the Northwest Territories

“We have accomplished more than just the ratification of a number of territorial agreements. We are strengthening relationships between our governments and between our people. This is the type of agreement where all parties are winners; where it is the citizens whose languages and cultures are being promoted who are the primary beneficiaries.”

—Michael V. McLeod, Member of Parliament (Northwest Territories)

“We are thrilled with this new multi-year agreement. This is an initial positive step toward the establishment of a new partnership with the federal government with regard to the protection and promotion of Nunavut’s official languages. We need adequate and sustained resources to remedy the decline of Inuktitut and to revitalize and support Nunavut’s education, professional and community sectors. With this agreement, we will be better able to meet the requirements of the Official Languages Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act and at the same time strengthen our collaborative relationship with Canada.”

—The Honourable George Kuksuk, Minister of Languages, Government of Nunavut

Quick Facts

  • Territories grant special status to Indigenous languages.

  • This agreement model was fully indicated as a means of responding to the territories’ needs for supporting Indigenous languages.

  • These agreements allow for full financial support for each territory:

    Northwest Territories:

                2016–17                                      $1,900,000

                2017–18                                      $5,900,000

                2018–19                                      $5,900,000

                2019–20                                      $5,900,000

                 TOTAL                                       $19,600,000



                2016–17                                      $1,500,000

                2017–18                                      $4,100,000

                2018–19                                      $5,100,000

                2019–20                                     $5,100,000

                  TOTAL                                       $15,800,000


For more information (media only), please contact:

Pierre-Olivier Herbert
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Media Relations
Canadian Heritage

Charlotte Digness
Media and Communications Coordinator
Department of Executive and Indigenous Affairs
Government of the Northwest Territories
867-767-9140 ext. 11092

Jacqueline McKinnon
Communications and Public Affairs
Policy, Legislation and Communications
Department of Education, Culture and Employment
Government of the Northwest Territories
867-767-9352 ext. 71073

Dan Pimentel
Communications Manager
Department of Culture and Heritage
Government of Nunavut

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