“Language embodies the unique character of a people. It lives in us, and we live through it. It defines and unites us.”

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault was elected the Member of Parliament for Laurier—Sainte-Marie in 2019. Arthur C. Green/Govt. Photo

“Yet today, three-quarters of the 90 Indigenous languages in Canada are endangered, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). There is an urgent need to act. That is why in 2019 Canada joined nations around the world in celebrating the International Year of Indigenous Languages declared by UNESCO. We recognize that Indigenous languages are essential to the identities and cultures of Indigenous peoples, their connection with the land, their spirituality, their vision of the world and their future.”

The year 2019 was a pivotal year for reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous peoples and the Government of Canada continued their efforts to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages in Canada.

“Throughout the year, Indigenous Peoples and the Government of Canada joined forces to celebrate the richness of Indigenous cultures and languages, funding community activities and projects and passing legislation to preserve these languages.”

“This year, we marked the 10th anniversary of National Indigenous History Month in Canada. Commemorations and festivities were held throughout the country to celebrate Indigenous history, cultures, heritage, diversity and languages.”

“Over the past three years, our government has invested heavily in projects that preserve, promote and revitalize Indigenous languages and cultures across Canada. The funding provided so far has responded to the needs that Indigenous communities have identified, such as learning resources in Indigenous languages, language classes and language preservation strategies.”

“We cannot speak about positive results in 2019 without mentioning the Indigenous Languages Act, which received Royal Assent this year. The Act is the result of two years of collaboration between Indigenous peoples and governments. Indeed, the success of our co-development partnership has inspired other departments across government to adopt the same model in their work. All of the parties involved brought a lot of goodwill, energy and wisdom to their work. Our government will continue to honour those efforts by providing long-term, predictable and adequate funding to support the Act’s implementation.”

“Although the International Year of Indigenous Languages is coming to a close, our work to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages in Canada will persist. Our government will continue to work with Indigenous partners to fully implement the Indigenous Languages Act in a spirit of mutual trust, respect and understanding.”