Language and Culture
According to the 2016 census there are over 70 Indigenous languages in use across Canada. Currently Cree, Inuktituk, and Ojibway have the highest number of speakers. Despite this diversity, overall only 1:6 Indigenous persons (or 17%) could hold a conversation in an Indigenous language. Language is critical to sharing traditional knowledge, family and community history, and cultural worldview. Sadly, years of colonial systems and structures, most notably the imposition of Residential Schools, severed these connections, meaning that for many generations, knowledge and understanding about their communities and their cultural identities was lost.
This unit explores the connection between language, culture and identity, and highlights some of the people and organizations working to reintroduce language and culture to their own communities, and to use them to educate Canadians more broadly.
In the sections below we have provided additional resources to support our live event and to further understanding of the path to meaningful Reconciliation. If you would like to continue discussing the themes for this unit, we invite you to join our Facebook group – A safe space where you can ask questions, share information and seek support.
Youth challenges help youth participants use the knowledge they have gained through the live event to become ambassadors for reconciliation in their communities. By gaining a better understanding of Reconciliation, they can move towards reconciliACTION.
Hello & Thank You!
Step 1) Record yourself saying a new expression (e.g. Hello, my name is, thank you) in an Indigenous language. Please refer to the resources in the lesson plan for inspiration.
For non-Indigenous young people, challenge yourself to learn an expression in the language of your traditional territory! If you are unsure of the traditional territory or the languages spoken there, please visit https://native-land.ca/
For Indigenous young people with knowledge of their traditional language, seek out knowledge from an Elder, family member, or the resources above, to learn a new expression in your language. Alternatively, use this opportunity to challenge yourself to learn an expression in another Indigenous language!
Step 2) If you are comfortable, upload your video clip to: https://www.dropbox.com/request/9d8umH6L5aukDTsETRvf
Please state your name, the language you have chosen, and the expression you have learned in the name of your video clip (ex. Jane Doe – Anishinaabemowen – Hello )
A montage will be made of all video clips!
This unit will explore the connection between language, culture and identity.
Continue the Conversation
Join us next week for the next installment in our Reconciliation Conversations series:
Monday June 8, 1:00pm EST – Health and Wellbeing:
The underlying issues for the health crises facing Indigenous communities are well documented: unsafe drinking water; lack of adequate housing and affordable food supplies; lack of adequate health care and emergency services; lower income levels and lack of access to education and economic opportunity.
Although the challenges can seem overwhelming, this unit will underscore the urgent need for action, and introduce some amazing people and organizations that are shaping a path forward.