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Bellegarde Welcomes Tabling of Federal Legislation to Revitalize Indigenous Languages

OTTAWA, ON - Feb. 5, 2019 - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today welcomed the tabling in Parliament of the federal Indigenous Languages Act, saying it deserves the support of all Parliamentarians and all Canadians.

“This is landmark legislation to protect and strengthen Indigenous languages, the original languages of these lands, that embrace our identity, our worldview and our nationhood,” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde. 

“No Indigenous language in Canada is safe. But now there is hope. This legislation will support First Nations efforts to keep their languages alive, vital and strong. Canadians and all parliamentarians must support this Bill because we all understand that language is identity, languages is culture, language is life. 

"There is no better way to mark 2019 - the International Year of Indigenous Languages - than to see the country that once tried to eliminate our languages enact a law to protect, promote and revitalize our languages.”

The Indigenous Languages Act was tabled today in the House of Commons with the aim of it becoming law before the end of the current Parliamentary session. The initiative to co-develop legislation to “protect, promote and revitalize Indigenous languages” was first announced by Prime Minister Trudeau in December 2016 at an AFN Assembly.

The announcement was a response to years of advocacy by the AFN, National Chief Bellegarde and First Nations. The AFN helped co-develop the legislation to ensure that First Nation perspectives, priorities and rights were included in the legislation.

Last week on February 1st, National Chief Bellegarde spoke about the legislation in his remarks to the United Nations General Assembly as the North American Indigenous Representative: 

“We need legislation to ensure sufficient, sustainable and long-term funding toward the revitalization of our languages. We need schools on-reserve as well as in urban and rural settings to create and implement effective bilingual and immersion education programs beginning with pre-school age children. 

"And we need programs that inspire all of our people to speak our languages, regardless of age, to renew the vibrancy of our communities as our cultural places. We want our languages to be our living languages - sourced from our lands, expressing our creation stories, and alive in our ceremonies and daily lives.”

The text of the National Chief’s remarks at the UN are available on the AFN website at www.afn.ca. The United Nations declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages to encourage urgent action to preserve, revitalize and promote Indigenous languages.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

BACKGROUND

TORONTO, ON - Jan. 29, 2019 - Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald celebrates the official launch of the International Year of Indigenous Languages. 

This is a particularly pressing and important issue internationally and within Canada as Indigenous peoples, communities and organizations make efforts to ensure the survival of Indigenous languages throughout Canada and to raise awareness of the many Indigenous languages across the globe. 

“I applaud the United Nations for declaring 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages,” said Regional Chief Archibald. 

“Our language and all dialects are fundamental to our identity, culture, and overall health and socio-economic well-being. The decision to dedicate 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages is welcomed by First Nations in Ontario and this recognition and promotion of our Peoples languages is a significant stride in the partnership relationship we’ve been working toward.”  

This year’s dedication is meant to not only empower Indigenous peoples, to preserve and embrace re-learning their languages, but to also celebrate and appreciate the many contributions Indigenous peoples have made to the world’s cultural diversity.

“Revitalizing First Nations languages is an essential component in self-determination. Currently, First Nations and Federal Government are working on the co-development of the Indigenous Languages Act,” said Regional Chief Archibald. “Working in partnership with First Nations leadership in Ontario and the Government of Ontario, we have developed a Lifelong Learning Table, a bi-lateral process that works to ensure First Nations communities work in partnerships and collaboration to bring changes and new approaches to First Nations education and languages revitalization in provincial schools in Ontario. 

The culture, traditions, values and knowledge of First Nations peoples are reflected in the languages that are spoken, we plan to continue to collaborate through the Leadership Committee on Languages to ensure First Nations languages are maintained and revitalized for the next generations.” 

“There is no Indigenous dialect that is not in danger of disappearing. This year is an opportunity to raise awareness and to empower First Nations in Ontario, especially our youth and to strengthen our Nations,” said Regional Chief Archibald.

“We must continue to play the leading role in revitalizing our language, culture and identity and continue to shed a light on the connection between our true shared history and the importance of language recovery. We are in a critical moment for Indigenous peoples across the world – we must act with urgency to deliver high-quality education, this includes support for language and culture to improve outcomes for First Nations.”

Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald Celebrates the Official Launch of the International Year of Indigenous Languages

NEW YORK CITY, NY - Feb. 1, 2018 - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today addressed the United Nations (UN) General Assembly as the North American Indigenous Representative at the UN Launch Event for the 2019 International Year of the Indigenous Languages. National Chief Bellegarde marked the day by urging Canadians and all parliamentarians to support the work underway in Canada to revitalize, reclaim, and protect First Nations languages, including the Indigenous Languages Act that is expected to be tabled soon in Parliament.

“Indigenous languages are the founding languages of this land, embracing our identity, our worldview and our nationhood,” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “But in Canada, no Indigenous language is safe. Now there is hope. The Indigenous Languages Act that we co-developed will help ensure our languages survive and thrive. Canada will be a stronger, richer country when we hear First Nations children and families speaking their languages. It will be a historic way to mark the International Year of Indigenous Languages when this country – that once tried to eradicate our languages – passes a bill that was developed with us to protect, promote and revitalize our languages.”

In December 2016, the Prime Minister responded to years of advocacy by the AFN, First Nations and the National Chief to create an Indigenous Languages Act. The AFN helped co-develop the legislation to ensure that First Nation perspectives, priorities and rights were included in the legislation. The bill is expected to be introduced in Parliament in the near future with the aim of having it become law before the end of the current session.

In his remarks to the UN General Assembly as the North American Indigenous Representative, National Chief Bellegarde spoke of the upcoming Indigenous languages legislation: “We need legislation to ensure sufficient, sustainable and long-term funding toward the revitalization of our languages. We need schools on-reserve as well as in urban and rural settings to create and implement effective bilingual and immersion education programs beginning with pre-school age children. And we need programs that inspire all of our people to speak our languages, regardless of age, to renew the vibrancy of our communities as our cultural places. We want our languages to be our living languages - sourced from our lands, expressing our creation stories, and alive in our ceremonies and daily lives.”

The text of the National Chief’s remarks are available on the AFN website at www.afn.ca.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

National Chief Bellegarde Addresses UN General Assembly at Launch Event for the International Year of Indigenous Languages and Calls for Support for Upcoming Indigenous Languages Legislation in Canada

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