• Aboriginal Languages Initiative
Oct 12, 2017

The consultation on Aboriginal languages entitled “Aboriginal Languages Initiative” took place on September 6 and 7, in Québec City.

This consultation organized by the AFN in cooperation with the AFNQL brought together different interveners directly and indirectly involved with language and culture.

Pursuant to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement in 2016 of an Aboriginal language bill and in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), this initiative is a co-development process with the Government of Canada.

It has three objectives:

  • -Provide an update on the draft Aboriginal language bill proposed by the Prime Minister in December 2016.
  • -Gather information from First Nations decision makers, Aboriginal language spokespersons and “champions” to contribute to the Aboriginal language bill.
  • -Inform First Nations decision makers, Aboriginal language spokespersons and “champions” regarding opportunities to express their opinions regarding the Aboriginal language bill.

During this consultation, a presentation was made on the status of Aboriginal languages and the history of actions taken in relation to Aboriginal languages, up to the Aboriginal languages bill proposal in 2016. Different tools that exist to showcase Aboriginal languages were also presented by Kitigan Zibi, the Cree, the Innu of Mamit Innuat and Nehlueun in Mashteuiatsh.

This consultation highlighted the fact that Aboriginal language learning cannot happen without support. This support must take place at the territorial level. The Bill can provide funding, but it will take time to reintroduce languages within some territories. In language learning, it is also important to build on valuing, supporting and seeking the contribution of Aboriginal language spokespersons, such as elders and cultural agents when implementing the Bill.

Finally, there are 11 steps leading to the Aboriginal languages bill. After the consultation, these include a memo to be sent to the Office of the Prime Minister, and a draft Aboriginal languages bill and the terms of its implementation to be drafted in cooperation with the AFN.