Indigenous languages in Canada about to get boost with new federal law


2019 is the United Nations International year of Indigenous Languages, and soon the Federal Government will introduce a new law to protect and promote it.

The bill, titled "An Act respecting Indigenous languages," " according to the government will help ensure Indigenous languages survive and thrive.

The most recent census figures from Statistics Canada showed that 263,840 people reported being able to speak an Indigenous language in 2016

However, it also showed ta two-decade decline in the percentage of Indigenous people able to speak an Indigenous language, going from 29 per cent in 1996 down to 16 per cent in 2016.

At the end of 2016, the Liberals promised to create a law to promote Indigenous languages, which could include long-term, sufficient funding for schools and special immersion programs on- and off-reserve.

According to the government,  the 12 principles to inform the bill’s content was co-developed with Indigenous groups, and more than 50 “collaborative engagement sessions” were held “to collect elements of importance to be included in the legislation.”

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated three quarters of Canada’s approximately 90 living Indigenous languages as “endangered,” a government news release said Friday.

UNESCO also found that there are no Indigenous languages in the “safe” category.