Statement on International Decade of Indigenous Languages

Statement on International Decade of Indigenous Languages

Tuesday 27th of April 2021

Tuesday 27th of April 2021

Inuit Circumpolar Council

Statement on International Decade of Indigenous Languages

Item 5(f)

UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

April 27, 2021

Speaker: Tukumminnguaq Olsen


Thank you, Madam Chair


The International Decade of Indigenous Languages is a crucial opportunity to further strengthen and support Inuit languages. The Inuit transcend international borders, and Inuit Nunaat stretches across four countries.


Our efforts to promote, strengthen and support our language is about Inuit self-determination. Each time an Inuk utters a word in their language, it is an act of self-determination, especially in the face of the genocidal colonial approaches of the nation-states that proactively worked to eradicate us.


Inuit languages should be recognized as an official language within Inuit homelands of their nation-states to ensure appropriate resources guarantee that our language thrives and remains alive well into the future.

The Los Pinos Declaration invites Member States to consider establishing a national mechanism for the successful implementation of IDIL. IDIL is an opportunity to do something bold and just. We call on all Member States to work with Inuit to achieve long-lasting, transformational change that will leave a positive legacy on our Inuit language and dialects.


We draw the Permanent Forum’s attention to the ICC Inuit Education Committee, which was established to ensure the rights established to ensure the rights of Inuit children to their language and culture throughout Inuit Nunaat.

We believe culture is the key and most important component of any Inuit-focused educational policies. Inuit aspire to develop our own institutions because our youth deserve better than the colonized school systems that have been imposed upon us.


The Inuit language is an international language. Though our dialects’ are uneven due to colonialism, we can proudly affirm that the Inuit language is the majority language across the Arctic circumpolar region. To exercise and enjoy our interrelated human rights, it is vital to ensure that Inuit can expect and receive essential public services in Inuit languages – it is a matter of our collective rights. In the face of the current pandemic, it is a public safety issue. Our language and dialects are crucial to our political, economic, social, cultural, and spiritual rights as Inuit.


Therefore, essential services such as Education, Health, and Justice. To achieve formal education in our language, it would require supports to get more Inuit speaking teachers trained and supported and mass development and production of Inuit curriculum materials and resources. Such an objective must be done in all public service areas.


Covid-19 and its impacts on our communities is one example. It is crucially important that our people understand public health messages – it is a matter of life and death – in this case. For this and many other reasons, we call upon governments to recognize Inuit languages as official languages within Inuit homelands so that our languages and our communities can thrive.



Qujanaq, Thank you.

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