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New law on Indigenous languages will aim to help them ‘survive and thrive’

WATCH: Armand McArthur was punished for speaking Nakoda, the language he grew up speaking, while a student at one of Canada's infamous residential schools in Lebret, Saskatchewan.

The Liberals are poised to introduce a new law to protect and promote Indigenous languages.

Just before the weekend, the government put the House of Commons on notice that it planned to introduce a new bill, titled “An Act respecting Indigenous languages,” for MPs to debate.

READ MORE: Conference hopes to prevent demise of Indigenous languages in jeopardy

On Friday, during a UN event kicking off the International Year of Indigenous Languages, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde described a law that could create programs to inspire Indigenous people of all ages to speak their languages.

First Nations helped develop the soon-to-be-introduced bill that will “help ensure our languages survive and thrive,” Bellegarde said.

WATCH BELOW: Man’s award-winning mission to save Indigenous language through music

Click to play video: 'Man’s award-winning mission to save Indigenous language through music' Man’s award-winning mission to save Indigenous language through music
Man’s award-winning mission to save Indigenous language through music – Sep 18, 2018

The most recent census figures from Statistics Canada showed that 263,840 people reported being able to speak an Indigenous language in 2016.

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The data also showed a two-decade decline in the percentage of Indigenous people able to speak an Indigenous language, going from 29 per cent in 1996 down to 16 per cent in 2016.

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