DID YOU KNOW?
Today, there are over 60 languages in Canada. Most of these have been spoken, and have been evolving, for thousands of years – far longer than English or French. Canada’s original languages are currently in a precarious state is well documented. The UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger project reports that three-quarters of the Nation’s Indigenous languages are “definitely,” “severely” or “critically” endangered. The rest are classified as “vulnerable/unsafe.” Today, Cree, Inuktitut and Anishinaabe (Saulteaux/Ojibway) are thought to have enough speakers to be sustained to last through this century. Many First Nations are currently making sure to strengthen and maintain their languages.
Residential school severed languages across generations, while the reserve system and other colonial assimilation policies divided communities from others with shared languages and traditions. The aftermath includes ongoing, widespread language loss and injury to culture, personal identity and community health and wellbeing. Of Canada’s approximately 1.5 million Indigenous people, just 15 per cent speak their heritage language at home.
We now have new legislation, strong policies to support the implementation and stable funding, many of the country’s original tongues can be rejuvenated and become part of the fabric of wider society. To that end, the 2017 federal budget dedicated $90 million to help “preserve, protect and revitalize Indigenous languages and cultures.” The federal government has also promised to pass an Indigenous languages act by 2018. Currently, First Nations across the county such as the First Nations Treaty 2 Territory are developing their own constitutions that will include their own language act.
Should you wish to learn more regarding the current and future planning/activities in preserving our languages, please contact Ray Mousseau – The Government First Nations in Treaty 2 Territory.
Waabishki Mazinazoot Mishtaatim, Anishinaabe Saulteaux
Last modified: February 7, 2020