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Supporting Indigenous Languages in Atlantic Canada

FREDERICTON: The Honourable Seamus O'Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services, announced that the Government of Canada is investing more than USD 4.1 million over two years to preserve, promote and revitalize Indigenous languages in Atlantic Canada.

He made the announcement on behalf of the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism.

Provided through the Aboriginal Languages Initiative, this funding will support 36 community-based projects including language camps, classes, immersion programs and mentor-apprentice programs offered in Indigenous communities in the Atlantic provinces. These projects will also help produce and distribute language resources, including translator tools, educational materials and children's books. The projects will support the preservation, revitalization and promotion of the Maliseet, Mi'kmaq, Passamaquoddy, Wolastoqey and Innu-Aimun languages.

Quotes

Language is essential to Indigenous Peoples' identity and culture. That is why our government is committed to taking action to help preserve, promote and revitalize Indigenous languages. Together with Indigenous partners, we are ensuring that Indigenous languages can flourish across the country.

—The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism

We are proud to provide funding to organizations in the Atlantic region that support the preservation and promotion of Indigenous languages and cultures. We understand the importance of these projects, as they make a genuine difference and have a major impact in the revitalization of Indigenous languages.

—The Honourable Seamus O'Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services

The Assembly of First Nations continues to play a pivotal role in the advocacy and representation of First Nations peoples in Canada. It was a pleasure to work with the Assembly of First Nations on the co-development of Bill C-91, An Act Respecting Indigenous Languages. This 40th annual General Assembly is an important forum that will provide much-needed insight and perspective as we move forward with Indigenous Peoples on a path toward reconciliation.

—Gary Anandasangaree, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism (Multiculturalism)

Our communities are stronger when we embrace our diverse cultures and heritage, with language being a crucial part of how we express our stories. This is true of the Wolastoqey language in this territory and the concentrated efforts being made to safeguard our region's shared history. Through our government's commitment to protecting and revitalizing Indigenous languages, we are ensuring healthy communities for generations to come.

—Matt DeCourcey, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and Member of Parliament (Fredericton)

Funding for programs like these, which put financial resources in the hands of those who know how to use them, is key to ensuring the vitality of Indigenous languages and the efficacy of the historic Indigenous Languages Act, which the government recently passed, particularly since 2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

—Marc Miller, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services

Quick Facts

UNESCO declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages. According to UNESCO, three-quarters of the 90 Indigenous languages in Canada are considered endangered.

In 2016, only 15.6 percent of Indigenous people could speak in an Indigenous language, down from 17 percent in 2011 and 21 percent in 2006.

In Budget 2017, the Government of Canada committed $89.9 million over three years to preserve, promote and revitalize Indigenous languages and cultures.

The Aboriginal Languages Initiative supports the preservation and revitalization of Indigenous languages through community-based projects and activities, including printed resources in an Indigenous language, language classes and the development of language preservation strategies.

On June 21, the Governor General of Canada granted Royal Assent to the Indigenous Languages Act. Since 2017, Canadian Heritage has worked with national Indigenous organizations to develop this historic legislation.

Budget 2019 includes an investment of $333.7 million over five years, followed by $115.7 million per year thereafter, to support the implementation of the act.

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Supporting Indigenous Languages in Atlantic Canada


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