Official Languages

The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) works with all official languages communities and leadership to address issues affecting languages and cultures in the Northwest Territories (NWT).

Through collaboration and cooperation with Aboriginal languages communities, the francophone community and northern leaders, the GNWT continues to support the development, delivery and progress of our official languages programs and services.


NWT Official Languages Act

In June of 1984, the Legislative Assembly of the NWT passed its first Official Languages Act.  Modeled on the federal Act of the same name, it had two essential purposes: the Act guaranteed equal status for the use of French and English by members of the public using government programs and services; and the Act officially recognized the Aboriginal languages in use in the NWT.  The Act was a major step forward in protecting and revitalizing Aboriginal language and culture. 

In 1989, a Special Committee on Aboriginal Languages was established as recommended by the NWT Task Force on Aboriginal Languages. The Special Committee Report included draft amendments to the Official Languages Act, and with some modifications, these were passed into law in 1990.  Although Aboriginal languages had been identified separately in the Act as official Aboriginal languages, they were now included in the list of official languages along with French and English.  The Act now recognized Chipewyan, Cree, Dogrib (Tłįchǫ), Gwich’in, North Slavey, South Slavey, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun and Inuinnaqtun as “Official Aboriginal languages” of the NWT.  The Aboriginal languages were given equal status within all institutions of the Legislative Assembly and the Government of the Northwest Territories, as defined in the Act and any subsequent regulations.



Statement of Policy:

It is the policy of the Government of the Northwest Territories that members of the public have reasonable access to its programs and services in any of the official languages.



The Government of the Northwest Territories will adhere to the following principles when implementing this Policy:


(1) A government’s ability to communicate in the official languages of the public it serves is an important part of the operation of good government.


(2) In order to understand and benefit from the government’s programs and services, the public requires information in the official languages.


(3) A government’s provision of services in its official languages recognizes and supports the efforts of communities in maintaining and developing those languages.


Full Policy available under attachments below.

Last modified: 2014-05-23

© 2015 Government of the Northwest Territories