Canada plans to conduct its first survey in Inuktut

According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, 23,225 Nunavut residents reported Inuktut as their mother tongue. For the first time, the federal agency plans to conduct a survey in Inuktut, as well as French and English, in 2021. (Sara Frizzell/CBC)
Statistics Canada, which admits to having historical “data gaps” in the North, will conduct its first survey in all four of Nunavut’s official languages next year.

The survey, scheduled to launch in April 2021, will focus on employees of the Nunavut and Canadian governments living in the territory, Marc Lachance from Statistics Canada told CBC.

“It was very important to ensure that the survey was equally accessible in all four languages.” Marc Lachance, acting director general for the justice, population and diversity branch, Statistics Canada
“We’re very proud about this, it’s coming soon, and we’re going to learn from this, you know, [because] it would be the first time.”

The questions will be asked in English, French, Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, 23,225 Nunavummiut (65.3 per cent of the population) reported Inuktut as their mother tongue. Inuktut encompasses all Inuit languages.

The survey, under development between Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the territorial and the federal governments, will ask employees about their professional experiences and development, said Lachance.

“We’re going to learn from this..” Marc Lachance, Statistics Canada

The government employee survey in 2021 will provide the agency with a chance to develop new approaches in light of the pandemic, Lachance said.

Nunavut has historically been less analyzed by Statistics Canada, creating some “data gaps that were very important in the North,” Lachance said.

Factors such as geographical distances, operational limits, cost and the burden of the surveys on the people of the North help explain that gap, said Lachance.

While many of its surveys have gone online, the Nunavut survey will require travel by some StatsCan employees, said Lachance.

“We need to understand how we can reach out to those communities, in the case of COVID[-19]. We are working towards and figuring out options,” he said.

COVID-19 survey in North

Statistics Canada has been conducting online crowdsourcing surveys during COVID-19, including in the North.

The federal agency released a report July 6 called “Concerns and precautions taken in the Canadian North during the pandemic.”

According to that report, Nunavut participants were significantly more likely to fear violence at home during the pandemic than the average Canadian.

Compliance with COVID-19 precautions was found high in all three territories.

Statistics Canada’s current survey looks at experiences of discrimination, including based on language, during COVID-19.

But these surveys are only available online in English and French.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: International Inuit organization launches new podcast, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Walt Disney Animation Studios to release Saami-language version of “Frozen 2”, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Can cross-border cooperation decolonize Sami language education?, Eye on the Arctic 

United States: American cartoonist says his new book on Canadian Indigenous history helped decolonize part of himself, CBC North

Thomas Rohner, CBC News

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