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Concordia journalism class delves into one of Canada’s oldest languages

Preserving one of Canada’s oldest languages
WATCH: Students at Concordia University are examining the efforts being made in two Mohawk communities to preserve and promote the Mohawk language – one of the oldest in Canada. But as Billy Shields reports, protecting a language presents unique challenges.

Brian Lapuz is one of six Concordia journalism students involved in a multimedia project aimed at shining a light on one of Canada’s oldest languages — Mohawk.

“There’s a serious lack of education about the Mohawk communities living around us,” he told Global News.

Global caught up with Lapuz as he was about to interview MP Marc Miller, who turned a few heads last June when he stood up in the House of Commons and delivered a speech in Mohawk.

“It was a huge eye-opener,” he said. “The effect that it has… it kind of dragged me into this discussion.”

Miller is learning Mohawk as a third language.

According to Steve Bonspiel, the Concordia journalist-in-residence who oversees the language project, the idea is to encourage more robust government funding of the language by spotlighting its history, culture and relevance.

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Bonspiel also edits the Eastern Door newspaper and learned to speak Mohawk from his father and continued to speak it as a student in Kanehsatake and Kahnawake schools.

“We used to all speak Mohawk here 50 years ago,” he said.

According to the 2017-2018 federal budget, funding for indigenous languages is slated to jump from $5 million to $30 million a year.