Canada – A Week Focused on Indigenous-Led Efforts to Reclaim, Revitalize, Maintain and Strengthen Indigenous Languages: Highlights of New Projects Funded in Ontario
The Government of Canada recognizes that Indigenous peoples are best placed to take the leading role in the revitalization of Indigenous languages. This week, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, travels virtually across the country to meet with various Indigenous communities and language organizations to listen and learn first-hand of the impact and importance of their efforts to revitalize and strengthen their languages. Today, Minister Guilbeault is meeting virtually with groups to learn about various Indigenous languages projects in Ontario. He visited Quebec virtually on Monday, and will visit Western Canada on Wednesday, Northern communities on Thursday, and the Atlantic on Friday.
Today, Minister Guilbeault met with:
The First Nations Confederacy of Cultural Education Centres, which is helping 44 community projects deliver almost 26,000 hours of language instruction to over 5,700 students and produce over 130 language resources in Anishinaabemowin, Cayuga, Cree, Lunaapeew, Mohawk, Ojibway, Oji-Cree, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca, Tuscarora and Western Swampy Cree; and
The Métis Nation of Ontario, which is preserving and expanding knowledge of the Michif language in Ontario by delivering a Michif language and culture camp immersion program for 40 participants; producing over four hours of interviews with Michif speakers; and translating free online resources such as posters, flashcards and stories from English and French into Michif.
Minister Guilbeault also announced that the federal government is contributing more than $10 million to fund 78 projects such as these in Ontario in 2019–2021.
Under the Indigenous Languages and Cultures Program, the Government of Canada has invested more than $60 million in 2019–2021 funding in support of the efforts of Indigenous peoples to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages and cultures. As a result of the significant investment for Indigenous languages through Budget 2019, we will see the largest growth in Indigenous language supports in program history, with a majority of these funds going directly to Indigenous communities and organizations to support their unique language needs.
Language and culture are at the core of healing, self-worth and identification, and the foundation of healthy communities. The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called upon the Government of Canada to empower Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people through the transformative potential of culture. With the help of initiatives like these, Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people are reclaiming their language and cultural knowledge, and using it as an authentic and powerful tool to share their own stories, in their own words.
“Language not only reflects our identity as individuals and communities, but also holds our shared history and cultural heritage, and reveals our dreams for the future. For these reasons, the revitalization of Indigenous languages in Ontario, and throughout Canada, is and will remain a priority for me, for our government, and for all Canadians.”
—The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage
“Our government recognizes the importance of preserving and strengthening Indigenous cultures, traditions and languages. That is why we continue to increase our investments in communities throughout Canada where Indigenous languages are spoken; where they are part of the fabric of everyday life. Indigenous languages are a source of vitality and strength, in particular, throughout the North and Arctic.”
—The Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs
“Language describes who we are, our identity, our feelings, culture and histories. In Canada, there are over 60 Indigenous languages, and we know we must protect them, promote them and encourage fluency. We are working to dismantle the colonial systems that have threatened Indigenous peoples and their languages over generations. The Indigenous Languages and Cultures Program is part of our work in partnership with Indigenous peoples to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and to address the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.”
—The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
“The Government of Canada must support those who best understand how to reinvigorate their own languages, using approaches that best meet their unique needs and circumstances. In line with our commitment, we will continue to support and fund Indigenous organizations in their work to reclaim, strengthen, promote and revitalize Indigenous languages.”
—The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services
“First Nation people believe their ancestral language is a gift from the Creator. Our languages are the essence of our identity, the expression of our culture, our history. Our languages must be protected, revitalized and maintained for the survival as the First People, the First and Original Languages of Canada. It is vital to revitalize and protect our languages for the next generations; our children deserve their birthright to language and culture. The Indigenous Languages and Cultures Program supports our communities in their fundamental work in language promotion and revitalization, and in raising awareness to Canadians the value and importance of First Nation languages.”
—Claudette Commanda, Chief Executive Officer, First Nations Confederacy of Cultural Education Centres
“We want to acknowledge Canadian Heritage’s support of the Métis Nation of Ontario’s efforts to protect, preserve and revitalize the Michif language. The Métis Nation of Ontario welcomes continued partnership with Canadian Heritage around this important work and strengthening a respectful government-to-government, bilateral relationship that can positively impact the lives of our Métis children, grandchildren and future generations.”
—Margaret Froh, President, Métis Nation of Ontario