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National chief calls for language revitalization

Wednesday February 23, 2011

National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo is calling for support from Canada and all Canadians to revitalize Canada’s Indigenous languages.

“As the original languages of this land, Indigenous languages require significant investment and it should be comparable to that provided for the two official languages in Canada,” Atleo said Feb. 21 on the annual International Mother Language Day.

International Mother Language Day is held every Feb. 21 around the world to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. It was first announced by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Nov. 17, 1999.

“Indigenous languages represent the collective heritage and identity of this country and this land. Our Elders have called upon us to never forget our languages, to teach them and to learn from our languages. Indigenous languages must be recognized, respected, fully supported and should be a source of celebration and pride throughout Canada.”

UNESCO stated in 1996 that Canada’s Aboriginal Languages are among the most endangered in the world.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, endorsed by Canada Nov. 12, calls on countries to work with Indigenous peoples in the spirit of mutual respect and partnership.

Article 13 states Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.

Article 14 states Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.

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