Voices From Here

Panigavluk Lillian Elias is a teacher, language activist, and residential school Survivor. She has spent much of her life promoting and preserving her first language, Inuvialuktun. Watch Lillian Elias: A Residential School Survivor’s Story to learn more about her efforts to revitalize the language. INDIGENOUS LANGUAGES There are more than 70 distinct Indigenous languages in Canada, many with multiple dialects. However, education and child welfare policies have contributed to reduced retention and transmission and, in some cases, near elimination, of Indigenous languages. For decades, children were forbidden to speak in their languages and cruelly punished for not speaking English or French in the residential school system. Language loss harmed children’s connections to their home communities, heritage, value systems, Traditional Knowledge, and ceremonies. In 2016, Statistics Canada reported that there were no more than 500 speakers of approximately 40 of these Indigenous languages. However, other languages are still widely spoken. For example, in the 2016 Census, 28,130 people reported an ability to speak Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe). Statistics Canada also reported that second-language acquisition was on the rise. Community-based organizations have worked to support the health and transmission of Indigenous languages. Many communities and school systems now offer instruction in Indigenous languages. Language learners can also take college and university courses or use social media and apps to sharpen their skills. ACTIVITY 6 JACEY FIRTH-HAGEN INTERVIEW PART I: WATCH THE INTERVIEW As a class, watch Jacey Firth-Hagen’s interview and ask students to pay attention to the connection between language (loss and learning) and identity. Encourage students to look at where Indigenous languages are spoken in Canada using this interactive map . Ask students what questions come to mind when they examine languages based on the map. Some Indigenous cultures use sign language to communicate and visually narrate discussions. Examples include Plains Sign Language, Plateau Sign Language, and Inuit Sign Language. Efforts are being made to revitalize these languages. For more information, consult Indigenous Sign Languages in Canada . SECTION 4 16