Court hears arguments on GN’s appeal to dismiss NTI’s language education lawsuit



Government Says Charter Section That Protects Equality Does Not Apply To Language


A hearing on the Government of Nunavut’s request that a judge dismiss Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.’s lawsuit over Inuktut education began Tuesday in the Nunavut Court of Justice. (File photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

A hearing on the Government of Nunavut’s request to dismiss Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.’s lawsuit over Inuktut education rights opened Tuesday in the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit.

NTI filed a lawsuit in October 2021, claiming the government failed to meet its legal obligations to ensure Inuktut language education is provided throughout the territory’s public school system.

The claim seeks a court order to compel the GN to submit a five-year plan to provide K-12 Inuit language instruction.

NTI alleges that the alleged failure to provide Inuktut language education violates section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects equality rights.

However, the GN wants the lawsuit dismissed, saying this section does not apply to language.

Lawyers Maxime Faille and Keith Brown argued for the GN for about three hours in court Tuesday, saying NTI’s lawsuit was “doomed” because the Charter section does not apply.

Faille also argued that the Charter only protects French and English. He noted that this is a discriminatory aspect of the Charter but, he said, one that cannot be changed.

He also stated that constitutional authority over the education and preservation, use and promotion of Inuit languages ​​rests with the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut.

Tim Dickson, representing the plaintiffs, who are parents, and NTI, argued that section 15 includes language, particularly in the case of Inuktut which is the dominant language in Nunavut.

The hearing will continue Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit with oral arguments from attorneys representing NTI and the plaintiffs.