This is page numbers 1525 - 1578 of the Hansard for the 12th Assembly, 7th Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was language.

Topics

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1563

Henry Zoe North Slave

Mr. Chairman, I would like to propose a motion. I move that clause 71 of Bill 25 be amended by striking out "section, determine the language" and by substituting "section and in accordance with the regulations, determine a language" in proposed subsection (1).

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1563

The Chair Brian Lewis

I want to make sure everybody has a copy first.

The motion is in order. To the motion. Mr. Zoe.

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1563

Henry Zoe North Slave

I hear the Minister saying "question" already but I will just note, Mr. Chairman, that we came up with this motion

because we wanted a more definitive clause and also to allow it to be put into the regulations. Thank you.

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1563

The Chair Brian Lewis

Thank you, Mr. Zoe. To the motion.

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1563

An Hon. Member

Question.

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1563

The Chair Brian Lewis

Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? Motion is carried.

---Carried

Does the committee agree with clause 71, as amended?

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

---Agreed

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1564

The Chair Brian Lewis

Mr. Antoine.

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1564

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Clause 71 determines the language of instruction and gives authority to district education authorities, in accordance with the regulations, to determine the language of instruction to be used in the education district. So the district education authority will determine what language of instruction will be used in that particular district.

Then it goes on to say that by determining the language of instruction in the education district, this is like a CEC, like a community, that it is an education division, so that they'll have that authority, and then the Minister will give directions to establish standards and guidelines for selection and use of language of instruction, to assure the maintenance of the highest possible standards.

The problem I have with this is that the district education authority may choose a language of instruction, and then it lists three conditions that all have to be met before they determine whether a language will be used at the district education authority.

One of the conditions is that there is a significant demand for the language in the education district. So, after I have finished my concern here, maybe the Minister could explain what significant demand is? Who determines it? Is it the Minister, the superintendent, the principal or the district education authority that determines the condition of significant demand?

Another condition is that there be a sufficient number of teachers who are fluent in the language and able to teach in the language in the education district. So then, another condition is that you have to find enough teachers who are fluent in that language.

The third condition is that there be sufficient and suitable school program materials available in the language.

So there are three conditions before a language of instruction is chosen. That seems to me to put more barriers in front of teaching an aboriginal language. In my communities there is Slavey language in the schools. So the Minister is going to have tell me who determines all these conditions.

What if you have a principal -- and it does happen -- who is against aboriginal languages being provided in the school? Who determines that? The community is not involved in it. Let's say there's a band council, for example. It's not involved in determining if it's their language, but it's their right.

The key to culture is language, and this is one of the things that aboriginal people have been saying for years, the chiefs and councils, that the key to a culture is language and one way of preserving it is to have that right in the school system. I think the right for speaking an aboriginal language in a community is taken away by this clause, especially with the conditions imposed upon it.

If you compare it to this current act, in here, the language of instruction for Slavey could be from K to 3. They must provide that. But now it doesn't do that. So I am concerned about this particular clause in that regard. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1564

The Chair Brian Lewis

Thank you, Mr. Antoine. So we've agreed to this clause as amended, but maybe the Minister could answer Mr. Antoine's questions.

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Richard Nerysoo Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The matter that is being considered here is the matter of language of instruction. It is the language in which all the subjects are being taught. That's what it is. It's not the language as a subject. They are two different things. You have to have teachers who speak the language who can teach all the subjects in a language; you have to have the materials with which you teach the children and you have to have the appropriate numbers of students in a class in order for you to deliver that program. This is a matter of quality assurance. It's necessary so that we can have the materials and programs responsive to ensure the success of students. So, in that sense, that's the whole purpose for which we have teaching and learning centres across the Northwest Territories. That's why we have the community teacher education program, which we are, in fact, going to be implementing this year in the Deh Cho. That's the whole purpose of trying to accomplish that, so that we can have more aboriginal teachers who teach the actual subjects in the school in their own language.

The other thing is that this decision is not made solely by the principal. The community leadership is involved. Part of that also includes, under sections 117 and 118, the requirement to consult on these issues and get the advice of the community.

The other point is that this legislation allows the potential for the very consideration that the honourable Member is raising. If he's concerned that the chief is not in charge or that the council isn't, in future, there is a potential where that leadership can assume responsibility for education. So this legislation allows that to happen.

There are two components the honourable Member is confusing, I think. One is the matter of subject and the other one is instruction, and you can't confuse the two because they are two totally different bases on which we teach.

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1564

The Chair Brian Lewis

Thank you. Mr. Antoine.

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I didn't ask the Minister to determine whether I am confusing people or not. I asked the Minister if he could explain to me the intention of this clause. Is it to put up more barriers than before with regard to choosing a language of instruction? One of the barriers is that there be significant demand, and I asked the Minister who determines this significant demand.

The other one is that there has to be a sufficient number of teachers fluent in the language available to teach in the language in the education district for the language of instruction.

The other one is that there are sufficient, suitable school program materials available in the language. There are more and more materials being developed in the communities with regard to providing aboriginal languages in the classroom.

But it seems there are barriers put up, so if the Minister could, would he explain to me if that is the case or not, and if so, maybe he could explain these conditions that are being imposed regarding language of instruction. Thank you.

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1565

The Chair Brian Lewis

Thank you, Mr. Antoine. Mr. Minister.

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Richard Nerysoo Mackenzie Delta

Again, Mr. Chairman, if I might very clearly say, the matter of language of instruction is the language in which you teach all subjects. That's what it is. If Mr. Antoine is saying that he has teachers in his region who can teach the subject math totally -- calculus, trigonometry -- sciences, biology, chemistry, in the language, then we will deliver the program.

But based on that, though, there is a need to ensure that, if you do have the teachers, that you have enough of them. If the issue is language as a subject -- in other words, having someone come in to teach the language so that you can teach children to learn to speak the language properly -- that's a totally different issue, and that can be done in addition to the languages of instruction. Those are two different things. That's what we are talking about when we deal with language of instruction.