Aboriginal Languages Month

Mar 4 2013

Jackson Lafferty - Official PortraitMr. Speaker, Aboriginal languages are important pillars of our Northwest Territories society – they create a strong sense of identity and belonging, and we must actively work with our language communities to ensure our youth identify themselves as language and cultural ambassadors.  March is Aboriginal Languages Month, and I urge all language groups to actively participate in the celebration of language and culture in their communities, not only during the month of March but at every opportunity throughout the year.

In our ongoing commitment to the preservation and revitalization of Aboriginal languages, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment continues to develop language resources to encourage use in the home, community and schools.  Over the past year, five Dene language apps for Apple products were developed, and we are nearing completion of the Inuvialuit and Cree language apps.  The South Slave Divisional Education Council also worked with the community of Fort Resolution to create the Chipewyan Dictionary, and students were involved in the entire process. 

Mr. Speaker, we are seeing a new direction to focus our efforts in language preservation and promotion with our students and youth.  Through efforts of some of our local and territorial filmmakers, media and film arts are emerging as a new opportunity to create an identity for the cultures and languages of the North.  I have spoken previously about fusing our cultures with technology, and the importance of supports and resources in place for our residents that are telling their stories through these channels.  I am very excited about the possibilities.

Mr. Speaker, as part of our ongoing engagement process with the language communities, the Department is hosting the second annual Aboriginal Languages Symposium from March 20th to 21st, 2013. One hundred twenty five delegates from across the territory will converge in Yellowknife to discuss ways in which to promote, preserve and revitalize our Aboriginal languages, especially with young people – a group critical to our success.

The Symposium will also be used as a platform to validate the Aboriginal Languages Secretariat implementation plan and priorities with stakeholders, raise awareness, and share best practices.

Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize all those who dedicate their time to revitalizing and maintaining their Aboriginal languages.  Languages strengthen our greater NWT community by creating an identity and cultural foundation for all of us.  As a priority of the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, we will continue to further language and culture initiatives that help preserve, promote and revitalize these important pillars of our society.

Masi, Mr. Speaker.