Statement by Minister Rodriguez and Minister Bennett on UNESCO's International Year of Indigenous Languages


OTTAWA, January 28, 2019

Language is the cornerstone of our identity. It defines who we are and marks our place in the world. It gives us our voice.

Today, most Indigenous languages spoken in Canada are endangered. They are endangered as a result of past government laws, policies and actions including The Indian Act, residential schools and the Sixties Scoop. Urgent action is required.

Every Indigenous child needs to grow up with a strong connection to their language and culture. We know that a secure personal identity and pride in one’s culture are essential to self-esteem and resilience. This leads to better health, education and economic outcomes.

Reclaiming and revitalizing Indigenous languages is a crucial step in our country’s shared journey of reconciliation. It is important to move forward together quickly, which is why the Government of Canada has already invested a historic $90 million for Indigenous languages initiatives, including funding for Indigenous literacy programs and language revitalization projects.

We are grateful to be working in partnership with Indigenous People to co-develop legislation that will help reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages in Canada.

We are also grateful to the many inspiring Indigenous leaders whose hard work has not only contributed to the global recognition of the importance of Indigenous languages, but also the newfound urgency to act to preserve them. 

The world’s focus on Indigenous languages supports all nations’ efforts toward a strong future for Indigenous Peoples for generations to come.


Simon Ross
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism

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