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Complaints received by EC on Nunavut's election materialCEO appearance on the Main Estimates 2022-2023 before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs

Key Messages

  • EC offers a range of services and information in Inuktitut to electors in Nunavut before and on election day, as well as at polling stations. In that regard, six (6) complaints/questions were received for the 44th general election. The Languages Commissioner of Nunavut also forwarded to EC some concerns that its office received, including with regard to the availability of information on health measures in Inuktitut.
  • EC is working to improve its Inuit-language service offerings in Nunavut.

Facts

Service offerings in Inuktitut in 2021

  • In Nunavut, Elections Canada implemented an awareness program that emphasized partnerships with organizations that serve Inuit and Inuit-language speakers, as they are in the best position to communicate with those electors in a way that respects Inuit culture.
  • Each registered elector in Nunavut received two voter information cards indicating where and when to vote, as well as information on the accessibility of their polling station: one in English and French, and one in English and Inuktitut.
  • Elections Canada also prioritized hiring poll workers who speak at least one Inuit language. In 2021, nearly all poll workers at polling stations outside Iqaluit spoke at least one Inuit language. In Iqaluit, the polling station had at least one person on site who spoke an Inuit language. Recruitment messages were translated into Inuktitut for Nunavut, and some training documents for election workers were translated into Inuktitut. In 2021, central poll supervisors in 23 communities were Inuit.
  • Election workers who spoke an Inuit language were encouraged to broadcast registration and voting information on their community's local radio station.
  • A “facsimile” type ballot in Inuktitut was made available to electors. Large posters (24x36) were placed at the entrance to polling places, and smaller ones were available on the voting tables so electors could refer to them before marking their ballot.
  • Elections Canada also provided products, such as the Guide to the Federal Election and the list of accepted ID, in Inuktitut. These products were available on the website and through our partners. The voter information campaign also included radio, television and print advertisements in Inuktitut.

Complaints and questions received

  • In total, six complaints/questions were sent to Elections Canada. Two of them involved the posting of health guidelines only in English on election day and came from members of the local media. The others were sent by community members who pointed out that the names of candidates and their political parties were not available in Inuktitut on the ballots.
  • The Languages Commissioner of Nunavut also sent two letters to the CEO (August and December 2021) in which she raises concerns about the availability of Inuit-language election and health information. Among other things, the letters mention the lack of Inuit-language signs in advance polling stations, as well as the unavailability of special ballots in Inuktitut.

Health poster not translated into Inuktitut

  • Another concern raised by the Commissioner that drew local media attention was the lack of a health poster (masking requirement) in Inuktitut on election day.
  • The returning officer was informed that territorial health authorities had announced mandatory masking throughout Nunavut for the first time since the pandemic began, the night before election day.
  • On the morning of the election, Nunavut's Chief Public Health Officer confirmed that the measure applied to the elections.
  • Anticipating having to ask electors to wear a mask in Iqaluit's busy central polling place (11 polling stations) and wanting to ensure that the election was conducted safely, Iqaluit's central poll supervisor created and printed a poster on mandatory masking in French and in English.
  • This poster on the masking requirement was used only in Iqaluit's central polling place because of the anticipated heavy traffic and was an isolated incident.
  • Elections Canada strives to improve its Inuit-language service offerings from one election to the next. The exceptional circumstances of the 2021 elections highlighted the importance of making our processes more agile with a view to continuing our efforts toward reconciliation and developing cultural reflexes, even in times of crisis.