Facebook has announced that it will soon allow Canadian Inuit to use the social media platform in their own language.
On Monday, which is also Nunavut Day, the social media giant announced that its platform should have settings for Inuktut dialects by next year. Inuktut speakers can also now access the Translate Facebook app starting today.
“We’ve been working closely with Indigenous leaders across Canada to better understand how we can improve Facebook to better serve their communities. One key piece of feedback we’ve heard is the strong desire among Indigenous peoples to engage in their own languages on Facebook,” said Kevin Chan, Head of Public Policy at Facebook Canada. “Language is vital to connection and to building community, which is why we are excited to begin that process today with Inuktut.”
Facebook is partnering with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI), the legal representative of the Inuit in Nunavut. Additionally, the social network partnered with language authority Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit (IUT) in order to create the most accurate translations.
“It’s a great opportunity, especially for unilinguals, to be able to use this platform for communication with friends in the wider world,” said Jeela Palluq-Cloutier, executive director of Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit.
To help build the new service as efficiently as possible, Facebook is currently reaching out to Inuktut speakers in order to crowdsource the new interface will the correct translation of words and phrases currently used on the platform.
Facebook’s decision has been welcomed by various community leaders in Nunavut. According to Aluki Kotierk, the president of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, said that Inuktut is the region’s majority language, and that many of its residents use Facebook to connect with family and friends.
“I think there’s a psychological impact of always having to speak something that’s not your mother tongue,” said Kotierk. “You’re always getting the message that your language is not quite at par with French or not quite at par with English. So it’s crucially important that Inuit who speak Inuktut are able to use Inuktut in any aspect of their lives, whether it’s public sector or private sector.”