Celebrate the diverse Indigenous languages of the NWT this month
February 1, 2023
February is Indigenous Languages Month in the Northwest Territories (NWT). The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) encourages residents to celebrate the Indigenous languages of the NWT and to take time this month to learn about and use them with pride.
Indigenous languages are the foundation of identity, pride, and community within the NWT. To foster revitalization, Indigenous languages need to be spoken in homes and communities so that intergenerational transmission can be restored.
This month, everyone can strengthen and support Indigenous language revitalization by:
- Learning simple phrases such as “hi”, “my name is”, and “thank you” in the Indigenous language(s) of your region.
- Sharing Indigenous language at home, work, school, and in your community.
- Learning the Indigenous place names of mountains, lakes, rivers, and communities near you.
- Connecting with Indigenous languages through the radio, podcasts, books, songs, video games, TV and more.
Celebrating language learners, speakers and language programs in your community,
Indigenous Languages Month is a step forward each Canadian can take on the path to reconciliation and reclamation.
Watch the Indigenous Languages Month video to learn how each of us can strengthen and support Indigenous language revitalization.
“Our nine official Indigenous languages shape our identity as Northerners and showcase our unique diversity. This land and its people are rich in culture, heritage and tradition. It is our responsibility to preserve and revitalize these languages through celebration and practice.”
– RJ Simpson, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment
- Join the online celebration of the NWT’s Indigenous languages: Use the hashtag #IndigenousLanguagesMonth to stay connected on social media and check out our free downloadable resources to help you spread the word for Indigenous Languages Month.
- Find ideas for community events and activities: https://www.ece.gov.nt.ca/en/ILM-toolkit
- The NWT is the only political region in Canada which recognizes 11 ofﬁcial languages. Of these languages, nine are Indigenous: Dëne Sųłıné Yatıé (Chipewyan), nēhiyawēwin (Cree), Dinjii Zhu’ Ginjik (Gwich’in), Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, Dene Kǝdǝ́ (North Slavey), Dene Zhatıé (South Slavey), and Tłı̨chǫ Yatıı̀ (Tłı̨chǫ).
- National Aboriginal Languages Day was first celebrated on March 31, 1993. Betty Harnum, the first Languages Commissioner of the NWT asked the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) to devote more than one day to celebrate the importance of language and culture in our lives. The AFN agreed and declared the entire month of March as Aboriginal Languages Month.
- In 2018, based on recommendation of the official language boards, February was declared the new Indigenous Languages Month in the NWT.
- The NWT Indigenous Languages Action Plan provides the GNWT with the priorities for protecting and revitalizing the Indigenous languages.
For media requests, please contact:
Manager, Public Affairs and Communications
Department of Education, Culture and Employment
Government of the Northwest Territories
867-767-9352 Ext. 71073