Access to Justice for Deaf Persons in Nunavut: Focus on Signed Languages


  • Based on this research, there is a strong indication that an indigenous sign language exists in the Nunavut communities. These research findings suggest that the feasibility of developing an interpreter training program which takes into account the linguistic complexities of deaf sign language users in Nunavut could now be explored. Arctic College in Iqaluit currently has a court interpreter training program which could be further developed to draw on the existing expertise of hearing and deaf people who already know the appropriate signed languages.
  • As part of this, I would also recommend the development of a sign language dictionary, specifically involving legal terminology, which could further aid in the access to justice for deaf persons in Nunavut.
  • Going somewhat beyond the parameters of this project, further study of the sign language system in Nunavut in the context of justice, but also education, health, social service and employment, is needed. The development of public awareness programs on deafness generally and sign language in particular would be key in the Nunavut context. The development of adult deaf literacy programs as a platform for development of literacy and job skills should be actively explored.
  • Further video documentation of the signed languages of Nunavut in partnership with the Nunavut Council for People with Disabilities and the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation could be undertaken as part of the effort to preserve Canadian Heritage languages.
  • Further scientific studies including linguistic, psychological, social and anthropological aspects related to the recommendations offered here, should clearly include the active participation of the Nunavut deaf/disability community as partners. Moreover, all the above recommendations need to be taken in the context of the present day realities of Nunavut. It is for the people of Nunavut to decide the priorities and the course of action, and, where possible, employment opportunities should be created in the local context.
Date modified: