The preservation of Indigenous language has been a priority of the Trudeau administration
The implementation of the Indigenous Language Act—an act supporting the efforts of Indigenous Peoples to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages—remains a top priority for the Government of Canada.
Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage announced that the Government of Canada is taking essential steps to advance the implementation of the Indigenous Languages Act by hosting a series of virtual consultations across Canada. This will fulfill an important obligation of the act for the minister to consult directly with Indigenous Peoples on the appointment of a Commissioner of Indigenous Languages and up to three directors who will form the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages.
Consultations will also seek input on how an Indigenous languages funding model can best meet the needs of First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation for the reclamation, revitalization, maintenance, and strengthening of Indigenous languages.
The Government of Canada will host close to 40 virtual consultations with Indigenous Peoples across Canada. This is a virtual re-launch of the in-person engagement sessions, which kicked off in March in Whitehorse, Yukon. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision was made to re-engage virtually, given that in-person sessions are not possible at this time.
An online questionnaire is also available to ensure the minister hears from all interested parties, including Indigenous elders, youth, persons with disabilities, women, men, two-spirit, and LGBTQ persons. The Government of Canada has been working with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council on the development of the consultations and on the implementation of the act, as set out in the legislation.
Like the majority of Governor in Council positions, a selection committee will be created to support the appointment process for the positions of Commissioner and Directors of Indigenous Languages. In the spirit of reconciliation, the selection committee will also include First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation representatives.
In early 2021, the Government of Canada will host a virtual Indigenous Languages Symposium, which will bring together a wide range of national and international experts to share their knowledge and best practices on the revitalization of Indigenous languages.
The Indigenous Languages Act was developed in consultation with Indigenous Peoples and received Royal Assent June 21, 2019.