The federal government has introduced legislation to preserve and protect Indigenous languages. Bill C-91 aims to create supports and bring sustainable funding to preserve Indigenous languages across the nation.

“The legislation represents our commitment to a promise made to Canada’s Indigenous peoples,” stated Kenora MP Bob Nault. “The preservation and support of these languages are a crucial part of our country’s vibrant history. Language is a key element to the core identity of the Indigenous and Métis peoples of Canada as it is with any other culture. With the introduction of this legislation, there is now renewed hope that Indigenous languages in Canada will be preserved.”

Three out of four of the 90 different living Indigenous languages in Canada have been identified as endangered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. UNESCO has declared 2019 as the International year of Indigenous Languages.

In 2016, the federal government says that only 15.6 per cent of Indigenous people could converse in an Indigenous language, down from 17 per cent in 2011, and 21 per cent in 2006.

The legislation follows through on the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as the United Nation’s Declarations on the Right of Indigenous Peoples. It’s also a part of the federal government’s commitment to a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.

“I am very proud to see the importance that this government places of preserving Indigenous languages,” added Nault. “The legislation will ensure that Indigenous languages are preserved for future generations.”

Bill C-91 also calls for the creation of an Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages. The legislation was created through collaborations with Indigenous leaders, and engagement sessions across the country, with over 1,400 submissions.

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