Ministerial Question Period: Indigenous Languages

By: The Hon. Brian Francis

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Hon. Brian Francis: Minister St-Onge, in line with the 2021 mandate letter of your predecessor, when does your government intend to amend the Indigenous Languages Act to ensure it is consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or UNDRIP, and that the language rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people are clearly defined and enforceable?

In addition, when will sufficient, predictable and sustainable funding be allocated to support efforts to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages in Mi’kma’ki and beyond?

The Hon. Pascale St-Onge, P.C., M.P., Minister of Canadian Heritage: Thank you very much for your question.

That is indeed one of the priorities that I need to focus on in the coming years. The department has already begun the very important task of working with Indigenous communities across the country. We are working together and giving them the resources and support they need to revitalize Indigenous languages. Since taking over this portfolio, I have had the opportunity to meet with a few of these communities to discuss this challenge. I know that the communities have a lot of work to do, because most Indigenous languages in the country are genuinely at risk of dying out in the very near future. There is a sense of urgency to work as quickly as possible to make sure that the language and culture is passed on to current and future generations. There is a lot to do, including training people who can teach these languages.

All sorts of extraordinary things are being done in the communities. I am making this commitment, but so is our government. Continuing this collaborative work is an essential part of reconciliation.

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