May 30, 2022

Indigenous rights include language rights (SDG 10)

Language is a really important part of Canadian identity, but not just French and English. Did you know that over 70 Indigenous languages are spoken across the country, a key part of the many Indigenous cultures? The census divides those into 12 language families: Algonquian languages, Inuit languages, Athabaskan languages, Siouan languages, Salish languages, Tsimshian languages, Wakashan languages, Iroquoian languages, Michif, Tlingit, Kutenai, and Haida. Each one is vital to cultural preservation!

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report includes five calls to action that relate directly to language and culture and recognize the urgency of revitalizing Indigenous languages as a means of preserving Indigenous cultures. The two go hand in hand.

  • For postsecondary institutions, in addition to programs tailored to the needs of Indigenous learners, that also means language instruction!

Did you know that over 23 Indigenous languages are taught at colleges and institutes across the country? That includes language-specific programs as well as language courses taught as part of programs intended to teach about Indigenous cultures and ways of knowing, truth and reconciliation, and more! For example:

This year marks the start of the UN International Decade for Indigenous Languages, which draws global attention to the critical situation of many Indigenous languages and encourages everyone to take part in preservation, revitalization, and promotion of these languages.

As we start Indigenous History Month and celebrate the history, culture, and diversity of Inuit, Métis and First Nations people across all of Canada, let’s not forget about the richness and diversity of Indigenous languages!