Discussion guide: Consultations and Engagement on the Implementation of the Indigenous Languages Act

the Honourable Steven Guilbeault

Message from the Honourable Steven Guilbeault

The Government of Canada is committed to strengthening the relationship with Indigenous peoples based upon the recognition of rights, respect, and true partnership. This is particularly significant for Indigenous languages, which are fundamental to First Nations, Inuit and Métis identities, cultures, spirituality, self-determination, and their relationships with the land and to the world.

The Indigenous Languages Act is a true milestone on the road to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. It is a concrete response to the urgent need for action to prevent the loss of some of the 70 living Indigenous languages spoken in Canada by supporting the reclamation, revitalization, maintenance and strengthening of these languages. It is important to acknowledge the significant role of Indigenous peoples in our collective past, present and future, and the importance of our relationship, as a government, with Indigenous peoples. This relationship underpins this legislation; the Act is historic, and its impact will be felt by many future generations.

We have embarked on a collaborative journey to implement the Indigenous Languages Act. We are undertaking an important aspect of this journey by consulting directly with Indigenous partners from coast to coast to coast. As Minister of Canadian Heritage, I am pleased to invite you to have your say. I want to hear from a diversity of voices as part of these consultations, which will help me make recommendations for the appointment of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages and directors. Your input is also integral to the development of a future Indigenous Languages Funding Model. These decisions must be directly informed by Indigenous perspectives, so I humbly ask you to lend your voice to this important initiative.

I would like to acknowledge the outstanding work of everyone who contributed to the development of this legislation. I would also like to thank, in advance, all of you who choose to participate in these consultations. As the Act says, Indigenous peoples are best placed to take the leading role in reclaiming, revitalizing, maintaining and strengthening Indigenous languages. I look forward to continuing to work with you all.

Introduction: Context and Purpose of Consultations

Important

Considering the conditions created by the pandemic, consultations are being undertaken using technology options such as video conferencing and teleconferencing in an effort to ensure meaningful participation. While these approaches are currently necessary to ensure everyone’s safety and to respect public health recommendations, they are not intended to be a long-term replacement to more traditional, in-person events.

Context

On June 21, 2019, the Indigenous Languages Act (the Act) received Royal Assent. The enactment of this legislation demonstrates the federal government’s commitment to supporting the self-determining efforts of Indigenous peoples to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages.

The Government of Canada is undertaking a variety of consultation activities across Canada on the implementation of the Act, with an initial focus on the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages and Directors and the future Indigenous Languages Funding Model, which will establish measures to facilitate the provision of adequate, sustainable and long-term funding for the reclamation, revitalization, maintenance and strengthening of Indigenous languages. The Government of Canada has worked with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council on the development of the consultation materials.

These consultation sessions will help the Minister of Canadian Heritage make recommendations to the Governor in Council for the appointment of a Commissioner and up to three Directors. Feedback from these sessions will also inform the development of the Indigenous Languages Funding Model.

Who should participate?

Consultation sessions are being organized with Indigenous peoples, including Indigenous governments, Indigenous governing bodies, and Indigenous organizations across the country.

An online consultation portal is also open, which includes an online questionnaire. Indigenous Elders, youth, children, persons with disabilities, women, men, LGBTQ2 (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit) people, and other interested individuals are encouraged to participate in consultations. For those who are not able to participate in a consultation session, we encourage you to share your views by completing the questionnaire, which is available on the online consultation portal, or through written submissions.

Purpose

The purpose of this document is to guide the consultation sessions on the implementation of the Indigenous Languages Act. It provides background information for participants and organizers about the context and process of the consultations. It includes an overview of why we are meeting, where we are now with respect to the implementation of the Act, and discussion questions.

About the Consultation

A Joint Implementation Steering Committee (the Committee) has been established for the purpose of working collaboratively on the implementation of the Act. The Committee is comprised of representatives of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the Métis National Council (MNC) and the Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH). The Committee is making progress on the implementation of the Act. The current consultations, which will be held from coast to coast to coast, build on the dialogue that took place in 2017 and 2018 to support the co-development of the legislation and will respond to the consultation obligations described in the Act.

The Committee has developed information tools and a methodology to support and facilitate the consultation sessions on the implementation of the Act. These consultations will inform the Minister of Canadian Heritage’s recommendations on the appointments of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages and the Directors. The topics for consultation also include the Indigenous Languages Funding Model for the reclamation, revitalization, strengthening and maintenance of Indigenous languages.

The Indigenous Languages Act: Overview of the Legislation and Implementation

Consult the full text of the Indigenous Languages Act.

Indigenous languages around the world and in Canada in particular, are losing ground to more widely spoken languages. Over the past few decades, the rate of this linguistic shift has accelerated on a global scale. The rate at which First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation languages, which hold philosophies, worldviews, traditional knowledge and unique cultures are being lost has been highlighted by many, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Indigenous languages are fundamental to the identities, spirituality, relationships to the land, and self-determination of Indigenous peoples.

Indigenous peoples have emphasized that language is the foundation of a culture, and for Indigenous oral societies, words hold knowledge preserved for millennia. Their perspective includes the concept that the transmission of laws, concepts of evidence, customs and traditional knowledge is dependent on use of Indigenous languages for continuity, and that some concepts are not easily translated into other languages. Indigenous languages also hold history, songs, dances, protocols, values, and connections.

On June 21, 2019, the Indigenous Languages Act (Act) received Royal Assent. Its overall purpose is to support the self-determining efforts of Indigenous peoples to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages. The Act is also intended to facilitate cooperation with provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous governments and other Indigenous governing bodies.

The Act acknowledges that discriminatory government policies and practices were detrimental to Indigenous languages and contributed significantly to the erosion of those languages. The Act also recognizes the importance of efforts to protect the vitality of Indigenous languages today and in the future.

The Act responds to Calls to Action 13, 14 and 15 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and was co-developed with First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation following extensive engagement and collaborative development work with Indigenous partners.

Key features of the Act

The Act includes an obligation for the Government of Canada to consult with Indigenous peoples on:

The Act recognizes that Indigenous peoples are best placed to take the leading role in reclaiming, revitalizing, maintaining and strengthening Indigenous languages.

Implementation Approach

The Indigenous Languages Act is enduring. It is anticipated that its implementation will be ongoing and will evolve in response to the needs of Indigenous peoples.

In December 2019, the Prime Minister mandated the Minister of Canadian Heritage to “continue to fully implement the Indigenous Languages Act in order to preserve, promote and revitalize Indigenous languages in Canada, with long-term predictable and sufficient funding to support the implementation of the Act.”

The implementation of the Act is being undertaken in a co-developed and collaborative manner with Indigenous partners. The Joint Implementation Steering Committee is currently focusing on the establishment of the Office, and the co-development of short and long-term funding approaches. PCH is also reaching out to self-governing Nations, other Indigenous governing bodies and Indigenous organizations at the national, regional and local levels, and to other federal departments and agencies, and provinces and territories in a collaborative approach to implementing the Act and preserving, promoting and revitalizing Indigenous languages.

The Act will be implemented progressively to ensure that policies, funding approaches and other elements are developed collaboratively and informed by feedback from consultations and engagement.

Status of Implementation

On August 29, 2019, all provisions of the Act came into force, except those dealing with the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages, regulation making, and Parliamentary and independent reviews. These will come into force on October 1, 2020.

The Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages

Introduction

The Act establishes an Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages (Office), with a Commissioner and up to three Directors appointed by the Governor in Council. The Office will be an arm’s-length, independent institution, and will not be part of the federal administration, nor will its Commissioner, Directors, or employees. The Act provides that the Minister make recommendations on appointments after consultation with Indigenous peoples, Indigenous governing bodies and Indigenous organizations.

Budget 2019 provided funding to support the operations of the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages and made funding available to the Office to support Indigenous languages revitalization efforts. Please refer to Table 1 on page 26 for further details on funding allocated through Budget 2019.

In accordance with the Act, the mandate of the Office is to:

The Office may also conduct research or studies regarding the provision of funding for the purposes of supporting Indigenous languages or the use of Indigenous languages in Canada, including for the purposes of measuring the vitality of those languages or identifying measures to restore and maintain fluency in those languages. This research or these studies may include community assessments if requested.

At the request of an Indigenous community, government or other governing body, the Office may provide support to their efforts to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen an Indigenous language.

Support offered by the Office

Upon request, the Office may provide support to an Indigenous community, government or other governing body in its efforts to:

Upon request, the Office may provide services to facilitate the resolution of a dispute related to:

The Commissioner may also review complaints regarding the fulfilment of obligations related to Indigenous languages under agreements entered into by the Government of Canada, funding provided by Canada for the purposes of an initiative related to Indigenous languages, the fulfilment of any of the Government of Canada’s obligations under the Act or the implementation of the Government of Canada’s policies and programs related to Indigenous languages.

Mandate - Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages

The Office is mandated to promote Indigenous languages; support Indigenous peoples in their self-determining efforts to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages; facilitate the resolution of disputes and review complaints; promote public awareness and understanding about Indigenous languages in Canada; support innovative projects and the use of new technologies in Indigenous language education and revitalization, in cooperation with governments and organizations, and; undertake research or studies regarding the provision of funding for the purposes of supporting Indigenous languages or the use of Indigenous languages in Canada.

In preparation for the appointment of the Commissioner and the Directors, members of the Joint Implementation Steering Committee have worked collaboratively to draft key responsibilities for these positions based on the Office’s mandate and initial discussion with Indigenous partners (see Annex A).

Appointments of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages and the Directors will be made by the Governor in Council, based on the recommendation of the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Please see Annex B – Appointment Process of the Commissioner and up to Three Directors - for further information.

Questions

The Office is mandated to support Indigenous peoples in their efforts to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages; promote public awareness of Indigenous languages; undertake research or studies on the provision of funding and on the use of Indigenous languages in Canada; and facilitate the resolution of disputes.

In preparation for the appointment of a Commissioner of Indigenous Languages and up to three Directors, we would like to get your opinion on the priority areas of focus for the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages in the implementation of the Act.

Members of the Joint Implementation Steering Committee have worked collaboratively to draft key responsibilities for these positions based on the Office’s mandate and initial discussion with Indigenous partners.

Commissioner of Indigenous Languages

Below is a summary of key responsibilities for the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages as described in the Act:

Directors of the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages

Below is a summary of key responsibilities for the Office’s Directors:

The full list of proposed key accountabilities for the Commissioner and Directors can be found in Annex A.

Roles and responsibilities

Plans and priorities

Selection of a commissioner and directors

(Educational background? Professional development? Degree of management experience required? Proficiency in an Indigenous language, English, French? Specific training or education required for the dispute resolution function?)

What Happens Next

A summary report of these consultations will be made available on the Department of Canadian Heritage website.

Appointments to the position of Commissioner and to the Director positions will be made as soon as possible.

Feedback received from these consultations will be shared with the Office of the Commissioner for their consideration.

The Indigenous Languages Funding Model

Introduction

Budget 2019 provided an investment of $333.7 million over five years and $115.7 million annually afterwards to implement the Act and for the preservation, promotion and revitalization of Indigenous languages.

The Funding Model will provide a collaboratively developed approach for Budget 2019 investments in Indigenous languages. These investments will flow through a variety of mechanisms, including agreements or arrangements with Indigenous governments and other Indigenous governing bodies, Indigenous organizations and other entities, and provincial and territorial governments.

In addition, the development and implementation of the Funding Model is intended to address one important purpose of the Act, which is to establish measures to facilitate the provision of adequate, sustainable and long-term funding for the reclamation, revitalization, maintenance and strengthening of Indigenous languages.

The Joint Implementation Steering Committee has begun work on a co-development strategy for the Indigenous Languages Funding Model to facilitate the provision of adequate, sustainable and long-term funding, as spelled out in the Act. Based on input received through consultations, the Funding Model will establish a policy and funding methodologies, along with a delivery model and implementation approach, to support a wide range of work needed to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages.

The Funding Model will establish funding methodologies and mechanisms for a diversity of First Nation, Inuit and Métis Nation governments and organizations to help overcome the limitations of the current system. Part of what was heard during previous engagements on funding for Indigenous languages is that there is a greater need for Indigenous peoples to be meaningfully involved in decisions around funding within a distinctions-based framework. A responsive change that has been made since the earlier engagement is the establishment of distinctions-based Indigenous Review Committees.

The proposed Indigenous Languages Funding Model can be found in Annex C.

Questions

In order to meet the objective of providing adequate, sustainable and long-term funding for the reclamation, revitalization, maintenance and strengthening of Indigenous languages, new Indigenous languages funding methodologies will be developed to help overcome the limitations of the current system.

In preparation for the development of a new Indigenous Languages Funding Model, your views are being sought on the principles that should guide this work.

Please refer to the proposed Indigenous Languages Funding Model, which can be found in Annex C.

Definitions

Funding methodologies” refers to the method or criteria used to determine funding allocations. Approaches for funding methodologies could include formulas based on per-capita amounts and/or activity types, different costing criteria for different types of activity (e.g. reclamation, revitalization, maintenance or strengthening), the identification of specific pools of eligible recipients, the creation of distinct funds for specific purposes such as community language plan development, etc.

Funding mechanisms” refers to the processes and instruments by which organizations request and obtain funding, and any associated conditions and obligations. Mechanisms could include grants, contribution agreements, self-governing financial arrangements, band or tribal council funding or other types of agreements and arrangements.

Language Vitality” reflects the situation of an Indigenous language; helps to determine what efforts/funded activities are required; and provides a basis for determining how best to achieve and measure results.

Governance, Planning and Delivery Capacity” reflects the level of organizational capacity of the Indigenous government, governing body or organization to undertake the language activity; helps determine what efforts/funded activities are required (e.g. there may or may not be a need for further capacity development/planning in the area of Indigenous language program delivery); and what funding model is most suitable.

What are your views on developing an Indigenous Languages Funding Model based on “Language Vitality” and “Governance, Planning and Delivery Capacity”?

Considerations:

Within a distinctions-based approach, what should be funded and how would you fund it?

Considerations:

Within a distinctions-based approach, how should funding be allocated and prioritized?

Considerations:

What is the best way to support Indigenous communities, organizations and governing bodies in defining and measuring success in the context of reclaiming, revitalizing, maintaining and strengthening Indigenous languages?

Considerations:

Questions and Answers

General questions

Question 1: How does the Indigenous Languages Act relate to specific First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation languages?

The status of Indigenous languages varies from one language to another, including with respect to the vitality of those languages. The Act provides flexibility for Indigenous peoples to determine their priorities and to develop the plans and approaches that will allow them to reclaim, revitalize, strengthen and maintain their languages in a way that is appropriate to their particular circumstances.

Indigenous peoples – not the Government of Canada – should determine priorities and solutions for the reclamation, revitalization, maintenance and strengthening of Indigenous languages. There may be many approaches – sometimes varying from community to community – taken to achieve language success. The approach to funding needs to be flexible enough to allow for this reality.

Question 2: How many Indigenous languages are there in Canada?

There is no definitive count of Indigenous languages currently spoken in Canada. However, the most common counts include:

Question 3: How many people speak an Indigenous language in Canada?

In the 2016 Census, 260,550 Indigenous people reported being able to speak an Indigenous language well enough to conduct a conversation. This represents an increase of 3.1% since 2006.

Question 4: Which languages are in danger of disappearing?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) stated that there are no Indigenous languages considered to be safe in Canada. A large body of domestic research has been conducted and reports written over the past 20 years support the findings of the UNESCO. For example, the 2016 census reported that 30 of the 65 First Nation languages that are spoken in Canada have fewer than 500 speakers. In addition, according to UNESCO, Michif is critically endangered, the next step being extinction. The 2016 census found that less than 1% of Métis individuals speak Michif. The 2016 census also indicated a decline in the percentage of Inuit who could speak Inuktut across some regions of Inuit Nunangat compared with earlier censuses.

The 2016 and 2011 censuses also reported that the number of persons who were able to speak an Indigenous language exceeded the number who have an Indigenous language as their mother tongue. These findings suggest that Indigenous languages are being learned as second languages, which is an important component of revitalization.

Consultations

Question 5: Who are you consulting with?

Question 6: How can I participate in consultations?

The Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages

Question 7: What is a Governor in Council appointment?

Governor in Council (GIC) appointments are those made by the Governor in Council, that is, the Governor General acting on the advice of Cabinet.

Question 8: What types of positions are appointed by the Governor in Council?

More than 2,000 individuals are appointed by the Governor in Council to serve as:

Question 9: Why must the appointment of the Indigenous Languages Commissioner be approved by Cabinet/the Governor in Council?

The authority for most Governor in Council appointments is provided by statute. In the present case, the authority for the appointment of the Indigenous Languages Commissioner and up to three Directors can be found in section 13 and subsection 16(1) of the Indigenous Languages Act.

Question 10: Where can I get additional information about Governor in Council appointments?

Visit the Governor in Council appointments webpage for further information.

Question 11: Will the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages and Directors have to speak an Indigenous language?

It will be considered an important asset in the appointments process if a candidate can speak or is learning to speak an Indigenous language; however, there is no requirement under the Indigenous Languages Act that the Commissioner or Directors speak an Indigenous language.

Question 12: Does the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages report to the Minister of Canadian Heritage?

The Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages is an arm’s length organization, and the Commissioner, the Directors and staff are not part of the federal public administration. The Commission reports on its activities, progress made, and the adequacy of federal funding through annual reports submitted to the Minister of Canadian Heritage for tabling in Parliament. The Commissioner must also submit an annual business plan and budget to the Minister. The Office must submit its audited financial statements to the Minister every year.

Question 13: How can I apply for one of these positions?

Based on previous consultations, a Notice of Opportunity will be advertised in the Canada Gazette and on the Governor in Council Appointments and Canadian Heritage websites. If you are interested in applying to be the Commissioner or a Director in the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages, please click on “Apply Now”. You may also visit the Privy Council Office’s webpage on Governor in Council appointments for more information on selection processes in general.

Question 14: Where will the Office of the Indigenous Languages Commissioner be located?

In accordance with the Indigenous Languages Act, the headquarters of the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages is intended to be in the National Capital Region or any other place in Canada that may be designated by order of the Governor in Council.

Funding / Indigenous languages funding model

Question 15: How can I access funding for my work on preservation, promotion and revitalization of Indigenous languages?

The Indigenous Languages Component of the Indigenous Languages and Cultures Program supports the reclamation, revitalization, maintenance and strengthening of Indigenous languages through community-driven activities. The 2020-2021 call for proposals is currently closed. We invite you to consult the Indigenous Languages and Cultures Program page for upcoming opportunities. Distinctions-based review committees have been set up to assess funding proposals.

Question 16: Why isn't there more funding? When will there be more funding?

One purpose of the Indigenous Languages Act is to establish measures to facilitate the provision of adequate, sustainable and long-term funding for the reclamation, revitalization, maintenance and strengthening of Indigenous languages. An Indigenous Languages Funding Model will be developed to address this objective. The Funding Model will provide a collaboratively developed approach for current and future government investments in Indigenous languages.

Annex A: Proposed Key Accountabilities for the Commissioner and the Directors of the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages

Commissioner of Indigenous Languages

  1. Supports the self-determined work of Indigenous peoples in reclaiming, revitalizing, maintaining and strengthening First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation languages and acts as a champion for Indigenous languages within the federal government by leading the independent Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages and working with Indigenous peoples, their governments, other governing bodies, communities and organizations, the Government of Canada, Canada’s provinces and territories and all Canadians.
  2. Shares information, makes recommendations, may undertake or cause research to be undertaken, and supports innovative projects on a variety of research and development initiatives, including the use of innovative technologies, the documentation of Indigenous languages, the development of learning tools, the establishment of certification standards and the preparation of community language assessments, while respecting the rights and roles of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation peoples, governments, and other governing bodies, communities, organizations and educational institutions in their efforts to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages and identifying the support they require to do so.
  3. Makes recommendations on the development of regulations for carrying out the purposes and provisions of the Indigenous Languages Act.
  4. Monitors and evaluates the implementation of the Act, the adequacy of funding provided by the Government of Canada to support Indigenous language initiatives, and the effectiveness of federal government programs, policies and initiatives in this regard; conducts audits and other special examinations in this regard; and makes findings available to Indigenous peoples, Parliament and the Canadian public through annual reports to Parliament that detail, among other things, the use and vitality of Indigenous languages in Canada and through other reports as deemed necessary.
  5. Through culturally appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms that incorporate cultural techniques reflective of the particular situation, and at the request of an Indigenous community, government or other governing body, organization, or the Government of Canada, reviews complaints and facilitates the resolution of disputes related to the fulfilment of obligations under agreements with the Government of Canada, funding provided by the Government of Canada for an Indigenous language initiative, obligations of the Government of Canada under the Indigenous Languages Act, and the implementation of its programs and policies related to Indigenous languages.
  6. In collaboration with Indigenous partners, provides effective leadership in defining, articulating and achieving strategic priorities, and in developing policies, approaches and processes for supporting Indigenous peoples in reclaiming, revitalizing, maintaining and strengthening Indigenous languages that are flexible, responsive and meaningful to Indigenous governments, other governing bodies, communities, organizations and other entities.
  7. Promotes public awareness and understanding of the richness of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation languages and cultures, the rights of Indigenous peoples related to Indigenous languages, the significance of those rights for Indigenous peoples as well as for the general public, the inseparable link between Indigenous languages and the cultures of Indigenous peoples, the negative impact of colonization and discriminatory government policies on Indigenous languages, and the importance of working toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada.
  8. Accountable, as the Chief Executive Officer, for the prudent stewardship of the financial, human and information resources of the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages, the administration and management of its operations, and the acquisition of corporate services, while maintaining effective administrative relationships with the Minister and the Department of Canadian Heritage.
  9. Oversees the Office’s corporate reporting responsibilities, the development of annual business plans and budgets, and the preparation of audit reports and other special examinations of the Office’s transactions and activities.
  10. Ensures that business planning, performance measurement and reporting approaches, processes and systems are consistent with the concepts and principles of best business practices.
  11. Establishes strategic links with international stakeholders, represents Canada on the International Committee of Language Commissioners, and conducts ongoing environmental scans to identify creative best-practices and approaches in other countries that support efforts to reclaim, revitalize, maintain or strengthen Indigenous languages.

Directors of the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages:

  1. Acts as a champion for Indigenous languages by representing the diverse interests of First Nations, Métis Nation or Inuit governments, other governing bodies, communities and organizations with respect to local, regional, national and international efforts to support the use and strengthening of Indigenous languages; provides advice and recommendations on how Canada can create conditions that support the self-determined efforts of Indigenous peoples to reclaim, revitalize, maintain, and strengthen their languages.
  2. Establishes transparent and respectful partnerships with Indigenous governments, other governing bodies and organizations to respect self-determined Indigenous-led approaches for language revitalization; and, establishes partnerships with federal, provincial, territorial governments and their respective departments to create positive conditions for self-determined Indigenous-led language revitalization efforts.
  3. Upon request from Indigenous governments, other governing bodies, communities and organizations, supports the efforts of Indigenous peoples working to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen their languages by: providing expertise, funding and other resources for conducting research or studies on the vitality of a language; creating permanent records of the language; establishing certification standards for translators and interpreters; developing and implementing language plans; and engaging other orders of government responsible for education on the establishment of culturally appropriate teaching and learning methods.
  4. In cooperation with Indigenous governments, other governing bodies, communities and organizations, as well as the Government of Canada, provinces and territories and other partners and stakeholders, supports innovative projects and the use of new technologies in Indigenous language education and revitalization.
  5. Supports the Commissioner with reviewing complaints and, through culturally appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms that incorporate cultural techniques reflective of the particular situation, facilitates the resolution of disputes between any parties with respect to the fulfilment of obligations related to Indigenous languages under agreements entered into by the Government of Canada, funding provided by the Government of Canada for an Indigenous language initiative, obligations of the Government of Canada under the Indigenous Languages Act, and the implementation of its programs and policies related to reclaiming, revitalizing, maintaining and strengthening Indigenous languages.
  6. Supports the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages by promoting public awareness and understanding of the richness and diversity of First Nations, Inuit or Métis Nation languages and cultures, the rights of Indigenous peoples related to Indigenous languages, the inseparable link between Indigenous languages and the cultures of Indigenous peoples, the significance of Indigenous language rights for Indigenous peoples and the general public, the negative impact of colonization and discriminatory government policies on Indigenous languages, and the importance of working toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada.
  7. Supports the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages by gathering and communicating diverse First Nations, Métis Nation or Inuit perspectives on: defining, articulating and achieving strategic priorities; the development of policies, approaches and processes for reclaiming, revitalizing, maintaining and strengthening Indigenous languages, including rules for dispute resolution; the expenditure of funding provided by the Government of Canada for the purpose of an initiative related to Indigenous languages; the preparation of business plans, budgets and annual reports of the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages; and, formulating advice to the Minister on the implementation of the Indigenous Languages Act, including the development of regulations.
  8. Manages human, financial and information resources.
  9. May act as the interim Commissioner of Indigenous Languages, if so designated by the Minister.

Annex B: Appointment Process of the Commissioner and up to Three Directors

Privy Council Office (PCO) will co-lead these Governor in Council selection and appointment processes with Canadian Heritage and provide advice throughout.

Canadian Heritage will co-lead these processes with PCO and provide a secretariat function and liaise with the Minister’s office and Joint Implementation Steering Committee (JISC) partners.

A Selection Committee is established to conduct a merit-based selection process, and identify candidates deemed qualified for consideration for appointment. This Selection Committee reviews applications, conducts interviews, and reviews results of reference checks and other applicable assessments. While selection committees are typically composed of federal officials, composition of committees do vary to meet specific circumstances and different legislative requirements. Because of the unique nature, scope and role of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages (the Commissioner) and Directors, the composition of the Selection Committee will also include First Nation, Inuit and Métis Nation representatives, thereby ensuring the selection of the Commissioner and Directors is directly informed by Indigenous perspectives. It will be important to ensure representation is inclusive of diverse Indigenous perspectives (Elders, youth, children, persons with disabilities, women, men and LGBTQ2 people) and is manageable in size and structure. Members of the Selection Committee must observe the highest standards of impartiality, integrity and confidentiality.

Key Milestones

Consultations and Key Accountabilities

Notice of Opportunity Process

Assessing Candidates

Identifying Highly Qualified Candidates

Announcements and Communication with Applicants

Once the appointments have been approved by the Governor in Council:

Timing

Privacy

Annex C: Proposed Indigenous Languages Funding Model (Outline for Discussion)

Introduction

The Joint Implementation Steering Committee is working on a co-development strategy for the Indigenous Languages Funding Model (ILFM).

The intent of the ILFM is to support existing investments while building a platform to achieve the longer-term goal of facilitating the provision of adequate, sustainable and long-term funding to support Indigenous peoples to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages.

Structure of proposed model:

  1. Context
  2. Budget 2019
  3. Indigenous Languages Funding Model
  4. What Happens Next

Context

In 2017 – 2018 the Government of Canada engaged with Indigenous peoples in consultations to co-develop the Indigenous Languages Act. In those pre-legislation engagement sessions, Indigenous peoples and stakeholders identified the inadequacy of the current funding levels and models. In particular, it was heard that:

It was also heard that Indigenous language experts and educators have developed programs and services that are successful in language promotion, which can be maintained and built upon.

The Indigenous Languages Act (the Act), which was developed collaboratively with Indigenous peoples, received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019. The overall purpose of the Act is to support the efforts of Indigenous peoples to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages.

The Act indicates that the Government of Canada is committed to providing adequate, sustainable and long-term funding to achieve the overall objective of reclaiming, revitalizing, maintaining and strengthening Indigenous languages. The Act also requires the Minister of Canadian Heritage to consult with Indigenous peoples, specifically, a variety of Indigenous governments, governing bodies and organizations in order to meet the objective of providing adequate, sustainable and long-term funding for the reclamation, revitalization, maintenance and strengthening of Indigenous languages.

A Joint Implementation Steering Committee, comprised of representatives from the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Métis National Council and the Department of Canadian Heritage, oversees statutory implementation activities.

The 2019 mandate letter of the Minister of Canadian Heritage calls on the Minister to:

“Continue to fully implement the Indigenous Languages Act in order to preserve, promote and revitalize Indigenous languages in Canada, with long-term predictable and sufficient funding to support the implementation of the Act.”

Budget 2019

On March 19, 2019, the Government of Canada tabled its Budget Plan in Parliament, which included investments, through the Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH), to support the implementation of the Indigenous Languages Act.

In Budget 2019 Parliament approved $333.7 million over five years, starting in 2019-20, and $115.7 million per year on-going beginning in 2023-2024. These investments are intended to support a distinctions-based approach to Indigenous language revitalization, reclamation, maintenance and strengthening projects and support the creation of the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages.

Most of these investments are “grants and contributions” funds, while a portion of the funds are departmental “operating” funds.

Grants and contributions are used to transfer funds to organizations, individuals and governments to fulfill the federal government’s objectives. Operating funds are used to fund day-to-day departmental operating costs, such as salaries, equipment and training. Transfers between these two types of funds require the approval of Parliament. This means that the Department of Canadian Heritage cannot use funds reserved for Grants and Contributions for its own operations, and its operating funds cannot be transferred to Grants and Contributions.

Budget 2019 investments are in addition to funds already within the PCH’s budget that support Indigenous languages and cultures.

Indigenous peoples and stakeholders have raised concerns that the funds allocated in Budget 2019 are not sufficient for the preservation, promotion and revitalization of Indigenous languages.

Table 1: Budget 2019 funding announcements
Funds 2019-2020 2020-2021 2021-2022 2022-2023 2023-2024 and on-going per year
Grants and Contributions Funds
Support to Indigenous organizations for co-development activities. $2M $2M $2M $2M -
Program funding for Indigenous language revitalization projects through the Indigenous Languages Component (formerly Aboriginal Languages Initiative) of the Indigenous Languages and Cultures Program (formerly the Aboriginal Peoples Program). $10.6M $35M $45M $50M $75M
Support for engagement on the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages (OCIL). $2M - - - -
Funds to support the operations of OCIL, including salaries, office space, utilities, equipment, etc. These funds will be transferred to OCIL through a funding agreement once the Commissioner is appointed. - $3M $5.5M $6.1M $6.6M
Funds available to OCIL to support research and innovation activities, including community assessments. These are maximum possible amounts. The specific amounts are still subject to discussion. - - $15M $25M $30M
Operating Funds
Department of Canadian Heritage operating funds to support implementation of the Indigenous Languages Act (e.g. salaries, equipment, IT services, office space). $500K $4.1M $4.1M $4.1M $4.1M
Total $15.1M $44.1M $71.6M $87.2M $115.7M
Table 2: Existing PCH funds to support indigenous languages
Funds 2019-2020 2020-2021 2021-2022 2022-2023 2023-2024 and on-going per year
Grants and Contributions Funds from Budget 2017
Program funding under the Aboriginal Languages Initiatives Footnote 1 $19.055M - - - -
Other Grants and Contributions Funds Footnote 2
Northern Aboriginal Broadcasting $8M $8M $8M $8M $8M
Territorial Language Accord – Nunavut Footnote 3 $5.1M $5.1M $5.1M $5.1M $5.1M
Territorial Language Accord – Northwest Territories Footnote 3 $5.9M $5.9M $5.9M $5.9M $5.9M
Funds for Yukon non-self-governing First Nations (former Territorial Language Accord) Footnote 3 $1.093M $1.093M $1.093M $1.093M $1.093M
Total $39.1M $20.1M $20.1M $20.1M $20.1M

Table 6 notes

Table 6 note 1

These funds ran out on March 31, 2020.

Return to table 6 footnote 1 referrer

Table 6 note 2

These funds are permanent and on-going.

Return to table 6 footnote 2 referrer

Table 6 note 3

Territorial Language Accords and Funds for Yukon non-self-governing First Nations fall under separate authorities.

Return to table 6 first footnote 3 referrer

Table 3: All PCH funds to support Indigenous languages
Funds 2019-2020 2020-2021 2021-2022 2022-2023 2023-2024 and on-going per year
Budget 2019 Funds $15.1M $44.1M $71.6M $87.2M $115.7M
Existing Funds $39.1M $20.1M $20.1M $20.1M $20.1M
Total $54.2M $64.1M $91.7M $107.3M $135.8M

Proposed Indigenous Languages Funding Model – For Discussion Purposes Only

This model was informed by discussions at the Joint Implementation Steering Committee.

Objectives

The objectives of the ILFM are to:

Common Vision / Policy

Taking into account Budget 2019 investments, the proposed Indigenous Languages Funding Model (ILFM) establishes and describes funding methodologies that will contribute to meeting one of the overall purposes of the Indigenous Languages Act, which is to support Indigenous peoples in their efforts to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages.

Funding Model and Delivery Model

Funding Model

The proposed Funding Model establishes a flexible, coherent and coordinated approach to funding for the purpose of reclaiming, revitalizing, maintaining and strengthening Indigenous languages.

Language Vitality and Capacity to Deliver: A Foundation for Decision-Making

The diagram below could guide decision-making with respect to the type, amount and provision of funding:

Funding Model
Funding Model - Text version

The diagram model is designed to assist organizations situate themselves on a scale of vitality and a scale of governance, planning and delivery capacity levels.

The scale of vitality consists of low, medium and high. Low represents reclaim and revitalize, medium represents revitalize and strengthen and high represents strengthen and maintain indigenous languages.

The scale of governance, planning and delivery capacity levels represents the governance, planning and delivery capacity levels (low, medium and high) of Indigenous organizations to undertake a language activity.

The Funding Model is not meant to prioritize one point along either of the continuums scales over another. All efforts to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages require support. Rather, the Model is intended to help determine what approaches are required, what the targeted results could look like at different points along each continuum, what funding mechanisms are best suited to the effort, and to clarify expectations and ensure consistency in application.

The “Language Vitality” continuum reflects the situation of an Indigenous language; informs what efforts/funded activities are required; and provides a basis for determining how best to achieve and measure results.

The “Governance, Planning and Delivery Capacity” continuum reflects the level of organizational capacity of the Indigenous government, governing body or organization undertaking the language activity; informs what efforts/funded activities are required (e.g. there may or may not be a need for further capacity development/planning in the area of Indigenous language program delivery); and what funding model is most suitable.

For example, a community with high language vitality and high governance capacity may need long-term funding to maintain a quantum of qualified teachers, whereas a community with low language vitality and low governance may need phased funding to build capacity, conduct research, preserve knowledge, develop planning skills, etc.

Indicators will be tailored to reflect progression along both continuums and activities associated with each indicator will be identified and costed.

Delivery Model

The Delivery Model sets out funding mechanisms to describe how Indigenous peoples, specifically a variety of Indigenous governments, governing bodies and organizations, will be able to access available funds. The Delivery Model also describes the type and duration of funding agreements or arrangements, governance, how decisions are made and timing of payments. It sets out standards related to mutual accountability, reporting and information-sharing based on commitments parties make to one another.

What Happens Next

In response to previous engagements, broadened eligibility, simplified application processes and reporting requirements have been implemented to enable long term, predictable, sustainable, and multiyear funding. For example, grants and the use of fixed contribution agreements were recently introduced, multiyear and core funding, and First Nation, Métis Nation and Inuit Review Committees have been established.

Additionally, the Act enables the negotiation of agreements or arrangements with Indigenous governments, other Indigenous governing bodies, Indigenous organizations or other entities. Furthermore, the Act mandates the Commissioner to report annually on, among other things, the adequacy of funding to initiatives related to Indigenous languages.

Further changes are underway to strengthen Indigenous people’s control over funding decisions as they relate to the reclamation, revitalization, maintenance and strengthening of Indigenous languages. The 2021-2022 funding approach is under review with the Joint Implementation Steering Committee, and discussions are underway regarding funding approaches for 2022-2023 and beyond. The present consultations will inform these discussions as well as the final version of the Indigenous Languages Funding Model.

Once finalized, the Indigenous Languages Funding Model will be shared broadly to increase awareness and transparency around funding for the reclamation, revitalization, maintenance and strengthening of Indigenous languages, the Indigenous Languages Act and its ongoing implementation. The Indigenous Languages Funding Model will contain provisions that clarify how the Model will be phased in, how its implementation will be monitored and evaluated, and how and when it will be reviewed and updated.

A summary report of these consultations will be made available on the Department of Canadian Heritage website.

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