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Rankin mayor wants Inuktitut at post office

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (May 08/06) - Canada Post's hands are tied when it comes to having no Inuktitut-speaking employees at its Rankin Inlet office, says the local area manager for Nunavut.

Peggy McLean says the corporation would like to make everyone happy, but the office is at full capacity.

The Rankin office has three employees.

McLean says the jobs in Rankin are union positions, so, even if she had the desire to do so, letting a current employee go to hire an Inuktitut-speaking worker is not an option.

"The last time we had a vacancy was in June of 2003," says McLean.

"We posted the position at that time - which started as a casual position - and we didn't have anybody who spoke Inuktitut apply for the job. Not one.

"We hired a gentleman who applied and we haven't had a vacancy there since. So, until a position becomes vacant or I'm told otherwise, there won't be any staffing changes."

Rankin Mayor Lorne Kusugak is fed up with the same answers he's been getting from Canada Post for years.

He says it's unbelievable that a Crown corporation operating in Rankin Inlet does not have a single Inuktitut-speaking employee.

"This is not funny anymore, if it was ever funny to begin with," says Kusugak.

"We have elders and other unilingual people in this community who deserve to be able to conduct business in their own language.

"Not only do they have that right, but Inuktitut is an official language here.

"I would like to know the legalities of a Crown corporation conducting business in a community where it cannot provide service in the primary language spoken, and an official language of Nunavut."

McLean, who is based in Iqaluit, says she has not received any complaints on the language issue in Rankin.

Nor, she says, has anyone called on an elder or unilingual person's behalf.

"If there's someone in the office who doesn't speak English, one of our two employees will ask another customer for help translating, but generally, we haven't run into any problems."