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


I would like to sincerely thank all participants in this project including the many people who contributed to this project informally.

Special thanks are due to the deaf people of Nunavut and their families who gave so freely of their time. They are all very special people and I can only hope that the results of this project will justify their efforts. Janet McGrath was of immense help with advice and with the telephone survey. Special thanks are also due to John and Judy McGrath. Thanks also to Bonnie Destounis for her expert advice and encouragement.

This project originated in a series of meetings held in Iqaluit in August of 1999. Present at the meetings were: Dr. Wayne Podmoroff and Doug Strater (Baffin Correctional Center), Dr. Susan Sammons and Alexina Kublu (Arctic College), Pamela Clarke (Department of Justice Canada) and Scott Clark (Nunavut Justice). Others who were consulted during the course of the project included Denise Coulter (Baffin Regional Hospital), Nancy MacDonald (Public Health), Dan Page (Arctic College), Mary-Rose Angoshadluk, Noah Tiktak, David Tiktak (Rankin Inlet), Rose-Tina Angnokak and Geetee Maniapiac (Pangnirtung), Billy Suwarak and Joe Kautow (Baker Lake).

The help of the Nunavut Council for People with Disabilities (NCPD) is gratefully acknowledged. This new organization holds great promise for improving the general welfare of all persons with disabilities in Nunavut. Special thanks to Meeka Kilabuk (Executive Director) for her extensive background knowledge and to Davidee Angnakak (Chair of the Board) for his support and encouragement. I heard the message of support for the affairs of the deaf and I also heard a clear message about the priorities which have been established by the Council. Clearly any actions arising from this report will have to be considered in the context of the ongoing activities of this exciting new organization.

Thank you also to the National Literacy Secretariat, Human Resources and Development Canada (HRDC) for their constant support over the years for adult literacy programs in the area of deafness. Many of the ideas in this project arise from this previous work. In addition, the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) also of HRDC deserves thanks for their unfailing encouragement and support for initiatives in the area of deafness and disabilities. The officials in Department of Justice Canada have also been most helpful at every stage of the process and have offered many original and helpful ideas.

Finally, I thank my wife Michele who made a significant contribution to this project. Without her insight and warm relations with the deaf people and their families this project would not have been possible. She also made all the administrative and travel arrangements a formidable task in the north in March. My daughter, J. Paige, a graduate student in Anthropology at Concordia University, also played a large role in this study as a source of anthropological information. Her work with the deaf Maya in Mexico was also an inspiration. My son Stuart also provided much needed encouragement and support. I sincerely thank them all.

The support of the Psychology Department of McGill University, particularly the Chair, Dr. A. A. J. Marley; the Canadian Deafness Research and Training Institute; the Institute for Rehabilitation Research and Development of The Rehabilitation Centre (Ottawa), particularly Debra Schleyer and Dorothyann Curran, is also gratefully acknowledged.

Not all the information that was gathered was included in this report due to the limited focus of the project. I want to assure all the people who gave opinions and ideas about deafness and disability that their ideas won’t be forgotten.

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