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In Mohawk speech, Liberal MP Marc Miller says learning language helped him learn ‘my place on earth’

Click to play video: 'In Mohawk speech, Liberal MP Marc Miller says learning language helped him learn ‘my place on earth’' In Mohawk speech, Liberal MP Marc Miller says learning language helped him learn ‘my place on earth’
WATCH ABOVE: Liberal MP Marc Miller made history Thursday by being the first to give a speech in Mohawk while using new simultaneous translation services offered to parliamentarians – Feb 7, 2019

Liberal MP Marc Miller already made history two years ago when he gave the first speech in the House of Commons in Mohawk.

On Thursday, he did it again by being the first to do so while using new simultaneous translation services offered to parliamentarians.

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Miller, who is not Indigenous, made the speech at 11:45 a.m. EST in the House of Commons.

The Montreal-area MP is bilingual in English and French but has previously said in a 2017 interview with CBC News that he wanted to “put his money where his mouth is” after often encouraging non-francophone MPs to try learning French during their time in office.

He decided if anglophone MPs could make time to learn another language while serving, he could learn another language too and began taking Mohawk lessons two years ago.

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“I want to be able to understand the language of the Mohawk people, people who have lived here long before my people arrived,” Miller said in Mohawk.

“I have discovered something that is more complicated than sharing words with one another. I have found that I am able to understand my place on earth which I did not appreciate before I began learning. It has now just begun to make sense to me how amazing the language is, how rich it is, how exceptional it is. It is a lot more complicated than my other languages.”

It will be the second time this week an MP has made history by speaking one of Canada’s Indigenous languages.

On Monday, Liberal Winnipeg MP Robert Falcon-Oullette gave a speech in Cree that was also simultaneously translated into English for the first time.

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Previously, members speaking in a non-official language had to provide their own translation, generally printed out and shared with colleagues ahead of time, if they wanted other parliamentarians to be able to understand what they were saying.

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