Indigenous Languages Initiative - Assembly of First Nations Engagement Sessions
The Assembly of First Nations is convening engagement sessions regarding the Indigenous Languages Act as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on December 6, 2016. Input from First Nations is being sought as this legislation is co-developed.
Currently, two engagement sessions are planned:
Engagement Session details for all other regions will be posted here soon.
The Assembly of First Nations has compiled the following resources for your reference.
Here are background reference documents:
Key Speeches and Mandate Letters of the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Reports from Canada
Towards a New Beginning: A Foundational Report for a Strategy to Revitalize First Nation, Inuit and Métis Cultures; Report to the Minister of Canadian Heritage by the Task Force on Languages and Cultures (2005)
Guide to the Canadian House of Commons (2016)
(page 11: How a Bill Becomes Law: The Legislative Process)
Letters and Resolutions
Assembly of First Nations Resolution on Revitalization of Indigenous Languages (Resolution no. 06/2015)
Assembly of First Nations Resolution endorsing the TRC Calls to Action (Resolution no. 01/2015)
Existing Legislation on Indigenous Languages
(Source: FPCC.ca website; Used with permission)
Canada: Official Languages Act
For reference, here is the current Official Languages Act for French and English.
Here is a more general summary of the legislation.
Canada: S-212 An Act for the advancement of the aboriginal languages of Canada and to recognize and respect aboriginal language rights
There is currently a private member’s bill in progress through the Senate that aims to provide recognition, but not official status, for Aboriginal languages.
For more information: [click here]
Official Languages Act 2008
The Act gives official status to the Inuit language, English and French. It provides for the following rights:
Use of any official language in the Legislative Assembly and the Nunavut Court of Justice and appeal court proceedings.
Anyone can communicate with or receive services in an official language from the head or central office of any territorial institution and non-head offices also have a duty to provide a service in an official language where there is demand.
Nunavut also has the Inuit Language Protection Act 2008
Children in grades K-3 have the right to receive instruction in the Inuit language.
A new Language Authority is created to establish language standards.
Inuit will have the right to work for the government in their own language.
Municipalities must offer services in the Inuit language.
By 2019, all school grades will have the right to an Inuit language education. However, this will likely be delayed: [click here]
Canada: Northwest Territories
Official Languages Act 1988
Chipewyan, Cree, English, French, Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, North Slavey, South Slavey and Tłįchǫ are the Official Languages of the Northwest Territories (along with English and French).
Grants equal rights and privileges for their use in government institutions (legislature, courts).
People can receive government services in a language where there is a significant demand for that language.
There is a language commissioner and an Aboriginal Languages Revitalization Board.
French and English are the official languages but services may be provided in Aboriginal languages (Language Act 2002).
The Aboriginal Languages Recognition Act 2010
The languages of Cree, Dakota, Dene, Inuktitut, Michif, Ojibway and Oji-Cree do not have official status, but are recognized as the Aboriginal languages spoken and used in Manitoba.
Māori Language Act 1987
Declares the Māori language to be an official language of New Zealand
Gives people the right to speak Māori in certain legal proceedings
Establishes a commission to oversee the implementation of policies, procedures, measures, and practices designed to give effect to the declaration of Māori language as an official language.
In 1978, Hawaiian is made an official language of Hawaii (along with English) and the the study of Hawaiian is accorded special promotion by the State.
Hawaii Public Schools framework related to the indigenous language and culture of Hawaii
Sweden, Norway and Finland
The Sami language has official status in Sweden and also in some municipalities of Norway and Finland.
For example, the Swedish legislation applies to areas where Sami has a long tradition and entitles individuals to use Sami in their dealings with administrative agencies and courts.
The legislation also gives the right for pre-school and elderly care to be partly or completely in the minority language.
United Kingdom - Wales
Welsh is not an Indigenous language, but has faced many similar challenges as a minority language native to Wales.
The Welsh Language Act 1993 and the Government of Wales Act 1998 provide that the Welsh and English languages be treated equally in the public sector, as far as is reasonable and practicable.
The Welsh Language (Wales) Measure was passed in 2011 confirming official status, creating a language commissioner and new provisions for the language.