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