Last in the Legislative Assembly September 1995, as MLA for Mackenzie Delta
Lost his last election, in 1995, with 28% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Right, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, I believe that the honourable Member has pointed out the basis on which the rights of the French are recognized under section 23. It is clear under section 23 of the Charter. "Where numbers warrant" are the words that are incumbent upon the interpretation to be given to that. The courts have ruled quite clearly in its interpretation and based on section 23. You might say the right isn't absolute. You can't just extend more and interpret it to be more than what it really is. I think some of the recommendations that have been made and suggestions here have been that we were trying to extend rights beyond what had been interpreted in the courts. Some suggestions would have gone further than what the courts had ruled.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, this legislation does not establish the rights of the French or the rights of the English. This legislation recognizes the existence of a right in the Canadian Charter of Rights. Based on that, we have an obligation to recognize that particular minority language education right that exists. Aboriginal rights, in this particular context, have been recognized in the preamble and in 4.(2).
The problem, Mr. Chairman, and I've been trying to say this in my introduction and in my comments, is that it is very unclear, to date, what those specific rights of aboriginal people really are for education, for that matter because there's no specific definition and interpretation that has been given to those rights. We recognize -- and I've said this all along -- and certainly this government's intention is to recognize that there are existing rights. What they are has not been defined. It makes it very difficult for us to say, yes, certain rights exist and these are the rights. That's what makes it difficult.
What we're trying to do is take it in a broader context and say that whatever rights might exist, we will recognize them. How they are defined, in some cases, will be through self-government agreements or treaty rights definitions or interpretations between the aboriginal people and the federal government. However, as a territorial government, we cannot define what those rights are because the relationship is not between the aboriginal people and the territorial government; the relationship is between the aboriginal people and the federal government, the Crown, you might say. That's why it's difficult for us to say these are the rights.
The other thing is that we're recognizing and encouraging rights of aboriginal languages, as a result of our official languages legislation. As a result of that, we are putting in place the appropriate recognition to allow the communities to respect and to instruct in the official languages within that Official Languages Act.
That's how we're getting into the recognition that they have a right to make these decisions and a right to be educated in those languages.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. That same message, Mr. Chairman, is being given in the Dene communities, as well. What you must understand is that we are now implementing in some regions now -- the Sahtu and the Deh Cho particularly -- the community teacher education program. We are now working in the Beaufort. We've been working in the Dogrib community. We've done some work in the South Slave, I believe, and so we are now covering, I think, all regions with our community teacher education program.
Like everything else, you have to have the people to be able to deliver the programs in those languages. It's not simply a matter of teaching it as a subject. Those teachers have to be knowledgeable about the concepts that they're teaching and must be able to deliver it in their language. That's where we're at right now.
The same comments you made are reflected in our view and we're trying to do it with all the Dene communities, as well. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you. I will advise the honourable Member that we do have, again, our teaching and learning centres that we fund on an ongoing basis. I believe every language is serviced right now in the Dene, with the exception of pre...The language of instruction, for instance, in Dogrib is from K to 2; and Fort Franklin, North Slavey, I believe it's the same. Those are generally the two. One community in Sahtu and all the communities in the Dogrib region, I believe. That's in terms of language of instruction for Dene communities.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We fund the teaching and learning centres, the agents really responsible for developing a lot of the materials. In the matter of curriculum, Innuqatigiit is the basis on which we're going to be delivering Inuktitut programming in the communities. In the west, the base curriculum is Dene Kede. That is what has occurred so far, but we continue to fund the teaching and learning centres. We are also responsible, of course, for teacher training and we have been successful, I think, in the Baffin with the teacher education program.
From a community development perspective, I think we've done a good job. We still need to continue to work towards our goal of having at least 50 per cent aboriginal educators across the north. We have been very successful in the Inuit communities and we hope, by using the same community teacher education program, we can also be successful in the Dene communities. We now have instructors that can actually teach these subjects.
Mr. Chairman, the materials have to, obviously, be available. But this clause deals with the teaching of every subject from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm in that language. It is for teaching math and biology without English; in other words, all in the aboriginal language or whatever official language you wish to use, like English. It is the teaching of those subjects in that language. That's what language of instruction means.
If, for instance, in the Gwich'in communities, we wanted to include Gwich'in as a subject -- in other words, we hire a language instructor for the development of students in that language -- that's a subject, it's not considered a language of instruction. They have to teach all the subjects in the language, as is the case in most of the communities.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Under the current act, from kindergarten to grade 2, no there isn't the requirement to get approval. But they do require that the Minister set standards and criteria for the quality of the program. The clause that is now before you, clause 71, allows the district education authority to provide programming from kindergarten from grade 12. In other words, we've expanded the ability of the district education authority to have control of the language of instruction from K-12. That's what we're doing here. But the same quality assurances still remain. There are policies, policy directions, standards and guidelines. We have that authority now.
Yes, Mr. Chairman, and we do it now.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's too bad people aren't reading the legislation because it says clearly in section 71, "A district education authority shall, in accordance with the requirements of this section, determine the language of instruction to be used in the education district." It doesn't say the Minister shall do it. It says the district education authority shall do it. It's section 71.
But the district education authority must recognize that there are certain requirements and considerations. There is, of course, the matter of the numbers of students, whether or not you have the teachers -- and I made mention that the Baffin, along with the Keewatin, is successful with aboriginal teachers -- and that the materials are available. The language of instruction includes all languages. If you are doing K to 12 from now on or K to 3, it depends on the material that is available. If you have teachers who can teach trigonometry in Inuktitut, or calculus or biology or chemistry, with all the formulas included, then you can teach those subjects. That's a decision left up to the community. We determine the guidelines which safeguard the quality and encourage the use of the language. There are two elements. We don't determine this, it's the community now.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is clear, Mr. Chairman. The language of instruction must be an official language. It says it isn't a matter of a prerogative, it must be. If the official language of instruction is Inuktitut, then
that is the language of instruction. The DEA makes that decision. In other words, it isn't going to be the department that makes the determination. We are going to set the standards and the criteria, but they will make the choice of the language. However, it must be an official language. As a result of that, if the official language is Inuktitut, they have to make certain that as a subject, English must be taught. That is their choice.
On the other hand, if English is the language of instruction, an official language other than English must be taught as part of the educational program. It is clear that the language of instruction has to be an official language.
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