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Inuit reaction to Liberals' Indigenous languages law: 'landmark' and 'colonial'

Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism Pablo Rodriguez responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Friday November 23, 2018 in Ottawa. A national Inuit organization says it is disappointed in the Indigenous languages legislation the federal Liberals are introducing today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — A national Inuit organization says it is disappointed in the Liberals’ new legislation meant to protect Indigenous languages.

The Liberals tabled the bill Tuesday, two years after promising a law to promote Indigenous languages, which Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says are on the verge of disappearing without mechanisms for revitalizing them.

The bill pledges long-term funding for Indigenous languages, and to create a federal commissioner of Indigenous languages.

While the Assembly of First Nations and Metis National Council are calling the bill a landmark piece of legislation, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is calling the bill a symbolic gesture from a “colonial system.”

Natan Obed, ITK president, says the Liberals’ legislation lacks any Inuit-specific content and doesn’t address Inuit rights to speak their traditional language, or help revive and promote its use.

The Indigenous Languages Act will now work its way through the legislative process with the goal of turning it into law before the House of Commons rises in June and an election campaign takes over federal politics.

The Canadian Press