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Nunavut resident raises concern over Elections Canada signs in English, French, but not Inuktitut

·2 min read
A polling station in Iqaluit for Monday's federal election. Signs asking that voters wear masks were posted in English and French, but not Inuktitut.  (Matisse Harvey/Radio-Canada - image credit)
A polling station in Iqaluit for Monday's federal election. Signs asking that voters wear masks were posted in English and French, but not Inuktitut. (Matisse Harvey/Radio-Canada - image credit)

When Iqaluit resident Elisapi Aningmiuq told Elections Canada staff at an Iqaluit polling station that the mandatory mask signs weren't in Inuktitut, she said they asked her if she could translate it.

She translated one of the posters and was asked to do more, but said no.

"It's definitely not my job to do a favour for Elections Canada when they should have been prepared," said Aningmiuq.

Aningmiuq said seeing signs posted not in Inuktitut is disheartening, and she worries about the impact on unilingual Inuit.

"Many times we feel that it's just unacceptable not to see Inuktitut in the signs that are meant for the community," she said.

Submitted by Elisapi Aningmiuq
Submitted by Elisapi Aningmiuq

Aningmiuq contacted Nunavut senator Dennis Patterson, who put out a press release Wednesday on the issue.

Patterson said not including Inuktitut on Elections Canada signs is an infringement on voter rights.

"I'm really concerned that Elections Canada has, at least in Iqaluit, thrown up a barrier which can affect the political rights of especially unilingual Inuit to vote," he said.

Patterson told CBC that he will be asking questions in the senate about the issue.

"It can be fixed easily. It's not an expensive thing, I would say the federal departments are making signs all the time," he said.

"Adding another language is not a huge burden."

Most signage is in Inuktitut

A spokesperson for Elections Canada said most of their signage is in Inuktitut.

Nunavut's mask mandate was reinforced the night before the election. The spokesperson said local returning officers took it upon themselves to make the posters.

Elections Canada does publish its guide to the federal election and voter ID cards in Inuktitut.

Elections Canada also made a poster this year with candidates names and parties to help voters better identify them on the ballot, Elections Canada said in an email to CBC.

Federal ballots are printed in French and English as legislated under the Canada Elections Act.

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