National Chief Marks International Mother Language Day

OTTAWA, Feb. 21 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo and First Nations across the country today acknowledged the annual International Mother Language Day.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo stated: "Indigenous languages represent the collective heritage and identity of this country and this land. Our Elders have called upon us to never forget our languages, to teach them and to learn from our languages. Indigenous languages must be recognized, respected, fully supported and should be a source of celebration and pride throughout Canada."

International research states that as many as 90-95% of spoken languages may be extinct or very seriously endangered during this century. Most of the threatened languages are Indigenous languages.  Indigenous languages in Canada are in a precarious position and must be considered "critically endangered."  In 1996, UNESCO stated: "Canada's Aboriginal Languages are among the most endangered in the world."

"We take this opportunity to call on the Government of Canada and all Canadians to partner with Indigenous peoples in their efforts to revitalize our languages.  As the original languages of this land, Indigenous languages require significant investment and it should be comparable to that provided for the two 'official' languages in Canada," said the National Chief.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, endorsed by Canada on November 12, 2010, calls on states to work with Indigenous peoples in the spirit of mutual respect and partnership.  It can serve as a guide for the work required and establishes important standards, stating:

  • Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons - Article 13.
  • Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning - Article 14.

International Mother Language Day was formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008 but was first announced by UNESCO on November 17, 1999

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.

SOURCE ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

For further information:

Jenna Young, Assembly of First Nations Communications Officer
613-241-6789, ext 401 or cell: 613-314-8157 or e-mail jyoung@afn.ca

Alain Garon, Assembly of First Nations Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789, ext 382 or cell: 613 292-0857 or agaron@afn.ca

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ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

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