Indigenous languages are a core part of both Canada’s cultural identity and Indigenous identity. The Government of Canada is committed to reversing the decline of Indigenous languages by working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities to keep their languages alive.
Today, the Honourable Pablo Rodríguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism, announced that the Government of Canada is providing up to $2.3 million over two years to preserve, promote and revitalize Indigenous languages in Saskatchewan.
This funding, provided through the Aboriginal Languages Initiative (ALI), will be managed and administered by the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre (SICC).
SICC, a non-profit organization, manages the ALI program for First Nations languages in Saskatchewan. It also identifies projects to be funded, including language classes, camps and product-based resources that are offered to First Nations communities across the province.
“Indigenous languages are key to connecting younger generations to their history, culture and community. We are proud to support the efforts of the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre to preserve, promote and revitalize Indigenous languages throughout the province.”
— Pablo Rodríguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism
“Our languages are living and sacred. Each language has a unique spirit that connects us to our ancestors and ancestral knowledge. Language is an energy, a vibration as powerful as the wind. Language connects us to more than an identity; it connects us to universal and natural laws that guide us in everyday affairs and opens our eyes to infinite beauty and responsibility. Supporting community‑based language initiatives ensures the people are uplifted with every breath.”
— Wanda Wilson, President, Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre
In Budget 2017, the Government of Canada committed $89.9 million over three years to preserve, promote and revitalize Indigenous languages and cultures.
The Aboriginal Languages Initiative (ALI) supports the preservation, promotion and revitalization of First Nations, Métis and Inuit languages through community-based projects and activities, including printed resources in an Indigenous language, language classes and the development of language preservation strategies.
ALI provides nearly $19.1 million annually to Indigenous language projects across the country.
The Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre (SICC) will administer up to $2.3 million through 2020 for the preservation, promotion and revitalization of First Nations languages in Saskatchewan.
Eight First Nations have their own languages in Saskatchewan: Plains Cree, Swampy Cree, Woodland Cree, Saulteaux, Denesuline, Nakoda, Lakota and Dakota.
More than two thirds of the 90 Indigenous languages still spoken in Canada are endangered according to UNESCO’s endangered languages criteria, while the remaining third are defined as vulnerable.
In 2011, only about 17 percent of Indigenous people could converse in an Indigenous language, down from 21 percent in 2006. The proportion those who speak First Nations languages is one in five; Inuit, two in three; and Métis, fewer than three in 100.
In 2011, only 14.5 percent of the Indigenous population reported an Indigenous mother tongue. Among those, seven percent said they are no longer able to conduct a conversation in their mother tongue.
SOURCE Canadian Heritage