The Auditor General’s report on education in the territory released in February painted a dismal picture of Indigenous language education.
“After our audit in 2010, the department acknowledged its need to review its policy for Indigenous language and culture-based education. It completed this review in 2014, which found that its model was not leading to fluency for Indigenous students,” the report noted.
The numbers of Indigenous language teachers in the territory, relative to the total number of teachers offers one explanation for the low educational results with the territory’s nine Indigenous languages.
According to an NWT Bureau of Statistics report from 2014, the most recent year for which official language proficiency data is available, the Indigenous language with the most speakers over 15 years of age is Tlicho, which had 2,235 speakers.
Next is South and North Slavey, which had 1,443 and 1,081 speakers respectively.
Inuvialuktun had 601 speakers, Chipewyan 562, Gwich’in 335, Cree 275, Inuktitut 201 and Inuinnaqtun had 195.
Compared to the report’s findings in 1989, proficiency has declined in some languages, but it has also increased modestly in more than half of them.
Language education by the numbers
There are 631 teachers working across the territory and of those 70 are Indigenous language educators, Meagan Wohlberg, spokesperson of the Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) told News/North.
Of that group, 53 are teachers (mostly full-time and some part-time) and the rest are educational assistants and Elders who help out in classrooms.
Read more: NNSL Media