Towards a New Beginning: A Foundational Report for a Strategy to Revitalize First Nation, Inuit and Métis Languages and Cultures
This report outlines the situation of First Nation, Inuit and Métis languages in and makes a number of recommendations for revitalizing the languages. “The Task Force views this report as the first step of a 100-year journey to revitalize First Nation, Inuit and Métis languages and cultures.”
During the Task Force meetings and consultations, “Elders emphasized that language, culture, spiritual values and First Nation, Inuit and Métis sense of identity are inseparable concepts”. As the report notes, “it is the oral histories, the songs and the dances that speak of the First Nation, Inuit and Métis connection with this land. They give the fabric of the texture and coloration that make it unlike any other fabric in the world.”
Language statistics show that Cree, Ojibwe and Inuktitut appear to be viable but that many of the approximately 60 other Aboriginal languages and dialects are in much worse shape. Some languages are spoken only by a few Elders. The report notes that, while there are worldwide trends contributing to loss of language, “‘s past assimilative actions, particularly the residential school system, cannot be ignored. ‘s failure to protect First Nation, Inuit and Métis languages and cultures means it must now provide the resources necessary to restore them.”
The Task Force recommends the implementation of a national Languages and Cultures Council “to provide leadership in developing a long-term, national language strategy”. While a number of other recommendations address government and institutional actions, the report also indicates that language revitalization needs to be community-driven: “First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples must take their rightful place as the first and foremost teachers of their own languages and cultures”.