President Neufeld Meets Nunavut MP Lori Idlout In Ottawa

Following a preliminary meeting while in Nunavut with federal MP Lori Idlout, USJE National President David Neufeld had the chance to reconnect with Ms. Idlout while in Ottawa the week of June 10th. While President Neufeld had requested an in-person meeting on Parliament Hill, the extremely hectic schedules of MPs made a virtual one easier for Ms. Idlout and her staff, so one was organized instead via Zoom. 

At the start of the meeting, President Neufeld expressed his appreciation for their previous conversation which included more dialogue on the value of a bilingualism bonus for those who speak Inuktitut. It is clear that within the RCMP, PPSC, and the Department of Justice, the employer relies heavily on Inuit employees of the RCMP (USJE members) to use the Inuktitut language in the course of their duties and not be compensated for the same.  

Unlike those federal employees who qualify for the Bilingualism Bonus (governed by the Bilingualism Bonus Directive) and receive an $800 bonus for occupying a bilingual position, these employees receive no compensation for using the Inuktitut language when conducting their duties. Inuktitut is a recognized official language of the territory, and 70 percent of Nunavut’s population speaks Inuktitut.

Mr. Neufeld and Ms. Idlout agreed that federal public servants, including USJE members, who use their Indigenous or Inuit language in the course of their duties should be compensated for doing so. It is a matter of recognition and respect. The use of the Inuktitut language is essential to the day-to-day life in the communities of Nunavut. They discussed PSAC’s ongoing efforts and where USJE could apply even more pressure moving forward. 

President Neufeld also provided an overview of USJE’s recent virtual Indigenous Townhall focused on Correctional Program officers and how crucial USJE believes it is to have more Indigenous voices at the table. Ms. Idlout asked if any of USJE’s forthcoming research undertaken by Dr. Ricciardelli would focus on the experiences of northern/Indigenous employees.  

It was explained that Dr. Ricciardelli has been asked to pay special attention to Indigenous-identified employees who participate in the studies within Corrections and Justice, particularly when it comes to those staff who deliver Indigenous programs within the Correctional Service. They have a tremendous amount of insight to offer on their own experiences as employees and the journey of Indigenous offenders who are incarcerated and seeking rehabilitation and healing.  

Mr. Neufeld also shared information on USJE’s plans to host an Indigenous roundtable on the occasion of the federal National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in late September and extended an invite for Ms. Idlout to attend. USJE will continue the dialogue with MP Idlout and looks forward to welcoming her in September should her schedule allow it.