MNO applauds Indigenous Languages Act
Feb. 11, 2019
The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) applauds new legislation, which will help it protect its language for generations to come.
On Feb. 5, Canada introduced the Indigenous Languages Act to reclaim, revitalize, strengthen and maintain Indigenous languages across the country, including Michif.
The legislation will provide the mechanisms to recognize Indigenous language related rights under Section 35 of the Constitution; support the reclamation, revitalization, strengthening and maintenance of Indigenous languages in Canada; support and promote Indigenous languages; provide long-term sustainable funding to reach these goals; and establish an office of the commissioner of Indigenous languages.
“This legislation is worth celebrating and is an excellent example of what happens when we engage with Canada through a government-to-government process” stated MNO President Margaret Froh.
“I look forward to the full implementation of the Indigenous Languages Act, seeing the recognition of Michif grow and watching it flourish within our communities and families here in Ontario,” she added.
Language and culture are among the priorities set out in the MNO Statement of Prime Purpose, the MNO-Canada-Ontario Framework Agreement for Advancing Reconciliation and the Canada-Métis Nation Accord which MNO was signatory to in 2017.
The MNO was involved in the legislation’s co-development, and a large MNO delegation attended a session in Toronto on July 12, 2018 focused on Ontario Michif.
The MNO has been working to develop Michif educational resources and promote, protect and revitalize Michif for the benefit of future generations. A MNO language workshop/engagement session is planned in the first half of 2019 for community representatives and knowledge holders to discuss language protection and revitalization initiatives.
MNO Chair and Michif speaker France Picotte said the new legislation will strengthen the MNO’s efforts to preserve and promote our language.
“This Act will set the stage for the work that the MNO will be able to do. Language and culture go hand-in-hand, and it’s important to keep our stories alive in our own language,” Picotte said. “Michif is an important part of Ontario Métis history and culture, and the MNO is dedicated to its preservation and promotion.”
The legislation addresses several Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, incorporates elements of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and comes during the UNESCO declared International Year of Indigenous Languages.