Today, the BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) is celebrating National Indigenous Languages Day 2021 and calls for continued and further actions to preserve, promote and revitalize Indigenous languages and recognition of the rights of First Nations in Canada by advancing the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through Bill C-15.
Regional Chief Terry Teegee quote
First Nations languages are immensely valuable as they are crucial to identity, cultural history, traditions and memory and contribute to the rich cultural diversity that coexists in British Columbia and beyond. Reversing the damaging effects of colonial assimilation policies and actions and the loss of First Nations languages requires sustained, flexible, and adequate funding and supports. All First Nations people should have access to resources to support learning their language and be able to access services in the languages of their territory.
In 2019 the Indigenous Languages Act, (Bill C-91) was brought into Canadian law and is recognized as an essential part of the journey toward reconciliation with First Nations. The implementation of the Act was supported in the Budget 2019 which included an investment of $333.7 million over five years, followed by $115.7 million annually. While this is a substantial step forward, further resourcing and commitment to meaningful implementation of the Act are crucial to attaining the vision it has set out.
BCAFN Resolution 11/2019 – Support for co-developing provincial Indigenous languages legislation directed the BCAFN to work toward opportunities for provincial languages legislation to support Indigenous Languages, and this work is ongoing.
Next year, 2022, is the start of a Decade of Action for Indigenous Languages (2022-2032) and will focus on prioritizing the empowerment of Indigenous language users. In preparation for this exciting and innovative event, UNESCO officially launched the Global Task Force for Making a Decade of Action for Indigenous Languages as of last week, March 22, 2021. The task force will help to prepare, plan, implement and monitor activities.
Bill C-15: An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – https://parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/43-2/bill/C-15/first-reading
Indigenous Languages Act, 2019 - https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/I-7.85/page-1.html
UNESCO launches the Global Task Force for Making a Decade of Action for Indigenous Languages - https://en.unesco.org/news/unesco-launches-global-task-force-making-decade-action-indigenous-languages?fbclid=IwAR0keeVLDwjswW3QwolM3AwgWlzLStdq31StkVBqUQ8H9vce6LRJvHRJJtg
BCAFN Resolution 11/2019 - https://www.bcafn.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/resolutions/2019_11_AGM_Resolution_SupportforProvincialIndigenousLanguagesLegislation.pdf