A Week Focused on Indigenous-Led Efforts to Reclaim, Revitalize, Maintain and Strengthen Indigenous Languages: Highlights of New Projects Funded in the Maritimes

News release

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, NOVA SCOTIA, March 19, 2021

The Government of Canada recognizes that Indigenous peoples are best placed to take the leading role in the revitalization of Indigenous languages. This week, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, travels virtually across the country to meet with various Indigenous communities and language organizations to listen and learn first-hand of the impact and importance of their efforts to revitalize and strengthen their languages. Today, Minister Guilbeault is meeting virtually with groups to learn about various Indigenous languages projects in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. He visited Quebec virtually on Monday, Ontario on Tuesday, Western Canada on Wednesday, and the North on Thursday.

Today, Minister Guilbeault met with:

  • Lennox Island First Nation, which is delivering 180 hours of Mi’kmaq language classes and language and culture camps for 55 participants, and providing over 370 free and online copies of Mi’kmaq books on different sacred story teachings in Prince Edward Island, which are being created in partnership with their k-4 through grade 6 students at the John J Sark Memorial school; and
  • Mi'kmaw-Kina'matnewey, which is delivering 300 hours of a Mi'kmaw mentor-apprentice program, 120 hours of Mi’kmaw language planning, and about 100 hours of Mi’kmaw language and culture camps for participants from Membertou, Nova Scotia. Through an iOS app, they will also produce eight digital storybooks that will provide an immersive experience for learning and sharing the Mi’kmaw language.

Minister Guilbeault also announced that the federal government is contributing more than $3.1 million to fund 62 projects such as these in Atlantic Canada, for a total of more than $5.5 million in 2019–2021.

Under the Indigenous Languages and Cultures Program, the Government of Canada has invested more than $60 million in 20192021 funding in support of the efforts of Indigenous peoples to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages and cultures. As a result of the significant investment for Indigenous languages through Budget 2019, we will see the largest growth in Indigenous language supports in program history, with a majority of these funds going directly to Indigenous communities and organizations to support their unique language needs.

Language and culture are at the core of healing, self-worth and identification, and the foundation of healthy communities. The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called upon the Government of Canada to empower Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people through the transformative potential of culture. With the help of initiatives like these, Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people are reclaiming their language and cultural knowledge, and using it as an authentic and powerful tool to share their own stories, in their own words.

Quotes

“Language not only reflects our identity as individuals and communities, but also holds our shared history and cultural heritage, and reveals our dreams for the future. For these reasons, the revitalization of Indigenous languages in the Atlantic region, and throughout Canada, is and will remain a priority for me, for our government, and for all Canadians.”

—The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage

“Our government recognizes the importance of preserving and strengthening Indigenous cultures, traditions and languages. That is why we continue to increase our investments in communities throughout Canada where Indigenous languages are spoken; where they are part of the fabric of everyday life. Indigenous languages are a source of vitality and strength, in particular, throughout the North and Arctic.”

—The Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs

“Language describes who we are, our identity, our feelings, culture and histories. In Canada, there are over 60 Indigenous languages, and we know we must protect them, promote them and encourage fluency. We are working to dismantle the colonial systems that have threatened Indigenous peoples and their languages over generations. The Indigenous Languages and Cultures Program is part of our work in partnership with Indigenous peoples to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and to address the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.”

—The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

“The Government of Canada must support those who best understand how to reinvigorate their own languages, using approaches that best meet their unique needs and circumstances. In line with our commitment, we will continue to support and fund Indigenous organizations in their work to reclaim, strengthen, promote and revitalize Indigenous languages.”

—The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services

“Maintaining one’s Mi’kmaq culture is so very important. I am pleased to be part of a Government that supports members from Lennox Island, both on and off reserve, to participate in a variety of language learnings and culturally relevant activities.”

—Robert Morrissey, Member of Parliament (Egmont)

“Revitalization of Indigenous languages across Canada is an important priority for our government. By investing in the language resources in the Mi’kmaw language we are ensuring that our language and the teaching within the languages are transmitted for generations to come. Speaking the Mi’kmaq language gives our youth the ability view the world through the lens and values of our Mi’kmaq ancestors, and I’m proud to be a part of government that has committed to profound and important work.”

—Jaime Battiste, Member of Parliament (Sydney–Victoria)

“As our elders pass, we become one step closer to losing our connection to the Mi'kmaq language. It is a part of who we are, and it is imperative that we reclaim that piece of our identity now before it is lost forever.”

—Jamie Thomas, Director of Culture and Tourism, Lennox Island First Nation

“Apaja'tuek L'nui'suti kmitkinnaq — We are bringing back language to our communities.”

—Blaire Gould, Executive Director, Mi'kmaw-Kina'matnewey

Quick facts

  • Budget 2019 included an investment of $333.7 million over five years, with an annual budget of $115.7 million afterward, to support Indigenous languages community-based projects.

  • The Indigenous Languages Act received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019. Canadian Heritage is working with Indigenous partners and organizations to implement the Act and develop a new approach to investing in Indigenous languages.

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Contacts

For more information (media only), please contact:

Camille Gagné-Raynauld
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage
camille.gagne@canada.ca

Media Relations
Canadian Heritage
819-994-9101
1-866-569-6155
pch.media-media.pch@canada.ca

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