Millions and a new territorial linguist announced for Indigenous languages

ECE Minister Alfred Moses, MP Michael McLeod, Nunakput MLA Herb Nakimayak - Photo credit Melinda Trochu

NWT MP Michael McLeod and Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Alfred Moses announced today 19.6 million dollars from the federal government to preserve, revitalize and promote Indigenous languages in the NWT.

Nunavut will also get 15.8 million to achieve the same goal. The multiyear plan will go until 2020 and was made possible by a new funding in Budget 2016.

MP Michael McLeod – Photo Credit Melinda Trochu

MP Michael McLeod reminded that preserving Indigenous languages are part of the TRC recommendations and praised a step towards reconciliation.

“Indigenous languages are essential to the expression of identity and belonging to communities. They transmit values, beliefs and stories from generation to generation and our government will continue to work with Indigenous peoples and communities to support and to help revitalize Indigenous languages and cultures in Canada.”

Minister Alfred Moses – Photo Credit Melinda Trochu

Minister Alfred Moses calls this a “significant milestone” and “truly amazing” step. He praised the Indigenous languages workers, elders and advocates who are working untiringly against the clock as there are “fewer and fewer languages speakers as time goes on”.

“There have been significant projects to revitalize and promote Indigenous languages and learning. We have worked with groups since 2012. One in particular in the development of language apps with games, puzzles, audio and exercises. There have been a number of dictionary projects involving youth, elders resulting in critical resources. Language classes are consistently offered through Aurora College and the curriculum in the Northwest Territories is infused in Indigenous language and culture and in some cases through immersion programming.”

Minister Alfred Moses also announced the appointment of a new territorial linguist to assist Indigenous governments in their work.

MP Michael McLeod told the audience that among 58 Indigenous languages in Canada, only 3 are expected to survive “if things don’t change”.

“In the Northwest Territories we have some languages that are in a very serious trouble. We have some languages that will become non-existent in a short period, maybe ten years. The Gwich’in language is probably in need of the most support at this point. So as part of our movement towards reconciliation, we felt that we needed to put more money towards it but we also recognize that we need an official Languages Act and that is something we are also working on.”

No date has been confirmed for a new Indigenous Languages Act that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in December 2016.

About the Author

Melinda Trochu
Melinda Trochu is an independent multimedia journalist from France who moved to Yellowknife recently. She has worked and lived in France, Lebanon and Australia. She is currently the News & Current Affairs Director at CKLB. If you want to contact her, here's her email: melinda.trochu@cklbradio.com

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