Celine Cooper: The future role of indigenous languages

The challenges are real given the diversity of languages and the population sizes:

At a speech to the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly back in December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government would be proposing a Canadian Indigenous Languages Act. While  they announced an allocation of around $90 million over the next three years to support communities seeking to revitalize indigenous languages in the 2017 budget, no actual legislation has been introduced as of yet.

Of course, there’s no denying that such legislation would be a logistical challenge. In Canada, there are more than 60 aboriginal languages, grouped into 12 distinct language families. About 20 per cent of those in Canada who report having an aboriginal mother tongue live in Quebec.

Would this mean Canada having 60 (or more) official languages? And if so, how would that mesh with existing policies and practices around French and English as Canada’s official languages? The reality is that different First Nations groups have been thinking about this for decades. One example can be found in a 2005 report titled Towards a New Beginning delivered to the minister of Canadian Heritage by the Task Force on Aboriginal Languages and Cultures. The authors concluded that while recognition of indigenous languages would be national, implementation could be regional.

Marc Miller’s Kanyen’kéha language speech to the House of Commons was a powerful symbolic gesture on behalf of the Liberal government. But keeping its promises to Canada’s indigenous peoples is going to take much more than words.

Source: Celine Cooper: The future role of indigenous languages

Advertisements

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: