Arts & Culture Good to Know

National Indigenous Languages Day at Caledon Public Library

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National Indigenous Languages Day was on March 31, 2024. This article from the government of Canada outlines some general points on the state of indigenous languages across Canada. Worth noting is how many indigenous languages that are currently spoken but also all that indigenous languages in Canada are considered to be at risk by UNESCO.

There is a section in the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action that specifically addresses language and culture and stresses the importance of valuing indigenous languages as a fundamental part of Canadian culture and society. Additionally, the Calls to Action recommends that education of indigenous languages should be funded and supported to revitalize the languages. It is encouraging to see the effect of education on some languages with a growing population of younger people learning to speak indigenous languages as a second language. But with around 70 different indigenous languages across Canada, strengthening these languages will take considerable effort.

Languages take thousands of years to develop, and the history and wisdom that lives in language should be respected and valued. But most importantly, preserving these languages and protecting its people is the right thing to do. If we let a language die, we are letting the destruction of indigenous culture continue. Doing nothing will not stop what is already set in motion by the past.

The materials previously mentioned from Statistics Canada are excellent resources to understand the state of indigenous languages in Canada. UNESCO also has the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. The Caledon Public Library has many resources on our Truth and Reconciliation page and through the digital library we have a few language learning tools that feature some indigenous languages. For example, Mango Languages include courses on Cherokee and Potawatomi. There are also online dictionaries like the Ojibwe People’s Dictionary and other resources in this list created by the translation bureau.

More picture books are incorporating indigenous languages and English together or feature glossaries at the back. Sometimes there are QR codes that lead to additional resources such as colouring sheets or pronunciation recordings. Above on the carousel is a list of some of these titles.

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