Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Alfred Moses (left), N.W.T. MP Michael McLeod (centre), and Nunakput MLA Herbert Nakimayak (right) at a news conference Friday. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Alfred Moses (left), N.W.T. MP Michael McLeod (centre), and Nunakput MLA Herbert Nakimayak (right) at a news conference Friday.
Photo Credit: (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

Federal government invests over $35M to preserve Indigenous languages in northern Canada

The federal government is pledging to invest $35.4 million to support and preserve Indigenous language services in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories (N.W.T.) in Canada’s north.

The federal government has allocated $19.6 million for the N.W.T. and $15.8 million for Nunavut. The “unprecedented” funding covers the period from 2016 to 2020 and comes from the 2016 federal budget, the office of Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly announced today.

“There is no relationship more important to our government then the one with Indigenous peoples,” Joly said in a statement. “The unprecedented level of support for Indigenous-language services in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut announced today is just one way that our government is living up to this important commitment.”

The money will fund community radio stations and education programs geared toward on-the-land training in the N.W.T. Indigenous governments in the N.W.T. will also receive part of the money to be spent according to local needs.

Elder teacher Siipa Isullatak teaches children how to sew at the Nakasuk Elementary School in Iqaluit, Nunavut on Wednesday, April 1, 2009. In Canada’s 2011 census data on Aboriginal languages, Inuit dialects came in second among the top-three reported Aboriginal language families with 35,500 people.
Elder teacher Siipa Isullatak teaches children how to sew at the Nakasuk Elementary School in Iqaluit, Nunavut on Wednesday, April 1, 2009. In Canada’s 2011 census data on Aboriginal languages, Inuit dialects came in second among the top-three reported Aboriginal language families with 35,500 people. © PC/NATHAN DENETTE

Nunavut’s Minister of Languages George Kuksuk said the funding announcement was “an initial positive step toward the establishment of a new partnership with the federal government with regard to the protection and promotion of Nunavut’s official languages.”

“We need adequate and sustained resources to remedy the decline of Inuktitut and to revitalize and support Nunavut’s education, professional and community sectors,” Kuksuk said.

N.W.T.’s Member of Parliament Michael McLeod said some languages in the N.W.T. are “in very serious trouble.”

“Some languages will become nonexistent in a short period of even 10 years,” he said, pointing to the Gwich’in language needing the most support.

With files from CBC News

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Posted in Education, Indigenous

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