February 6th, 2019

NDP Reacts to Liberals’ Bill on Indigenous Languages

OTTAWA – On Tuesday, the NDP reacted to the Liberals' bill on Indigenous languages by highlighting major flaws in the legislation that don’t meet Indigenous Peoples’ expectations. The bill fails to guarantee stable funding that Indigenous communities depend on to preserve their languages and support language keepers and teachers.

“Legislative measures to promote and protect Indigenous languages are something that I have worked hard to achieve in Parliament, and I see the government’s bill as a positive first step,” stated NDP Reconciliation Critic Romeo Saganash. “There is, however, room for improvement in the bill to help revitalize Indigenous languages and be a meaningful step toward reconciliation”.

The vast majority of Indigenous languages in Canada are considered endangered and there is critical need to retain language knowledge before it is lost entirely. While the Liberal’s bill aims to protect and preserve Indigenous languages, it fails to reflect key recommendations made by languages experts to reach the intended objective.

Furthermore, there have been legitimate concerns raised regarding the process of drafting the bill. The Inuit expected the bill to reflect their needs and submissions in order to respect co-development and reconciliation. This however is not reflected in the bill as it is now.

“The Liberal government’s definition of Indigenous organizations and Indigenous governing bodies is also unclear in the bill. Decisions around representation must respect Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty,” added Saganash. “Ignoring this fundamental human right would be a clear breach of Indigenous rights and a step back from meaningful reconciliation”.