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

News release

MANITOBA, BRITISH COLUMBIA, March 17, 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 Western Canada. He visited Quebec virtually on Monday and Ontario on Tuesday. He will visit the North on Thursday and the Atlantic on Friday.

Today, Minister Guilbeault met with:

  • The Prairies to Woodlands Indigenous Language Revitalization Circle, which is delivering almost 300 hours of a mentor (master) apprentice program and over 40 hours of mentor (master) apprentice workshops for Michif and other Indigenous languages, such as Saulteaux, Cree, and others across Manitoba, as well as researching, consulting and creating learning resources; and
  • Three British Columbia First Nations supported by the First Peoples’ Cultural Council, which administers the Indigenous Languages Component as a third-party delivery partner. For 2020–2021, almost 120 community-driven projects are receiving funding for the delivery of over 17,000 hours of language instruction to more than 6,400 participants, as well as the production of over 3,000 different language resources in 29 of the 34 Indigenous languages spoken by First Nations in British Columbia.

Minister Guilbeault also announced that the federal government is contributing more than $25.7 million to support 486 projects such as these in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, for a total of more than $31.6 million in 2019–2021.

Under the Indigenous Languages and Cultures Program, the Government of Canada has invested more than $60 million in 2019–2021 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 Western Canada, 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

"Along with our partner organizations, we are honored to be working to revive and revitalize Michif and other Métis and Indigenous languages, while connecting communities across borders, boundaries and generations. We are grateful to Canadian Heritage for the continued support of this vital work."

—Verna Demontigny and Heather Souter, Co-Founders, Prairies to Woodlands Indigenous Language Revitalization Circle

“Our Indigenous languages are spoken nowhere else in the world. This funding is an important step towards supporting a critically important part of Canada’s unique cultural heritage and contributing to the revitalization of our languages, while also creating important jobs that will preserve millennia of knowledge.”

Karen Aird, Acting CEO, First Peoples’ Cultural Council

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

Celia Sollows
Communications Officer
First Peoples’ Cultural Council
Media@fpcc.ca
250-818-7655

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