Help is on the way for a Métis language facing extinction in Canada.
In 2016, Statistics Canada estimated about 640 people left who speak the Michif language. On Tuesday, a plan was introduced to take action.
Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) in partnership with the Canadian Geographic, a magazine published by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, launched the Future of Michif Program – an initiative designed to encourage more Métis people to speak their traditional language.
In Saskatchewan, Michif can be found in areas that include Beauval, Pinehouse and Île-à-la-Crosse.
“Today is a very important day for us. It’s not that we haven’t been working on the Michif language…but for many years it’s been sitting on the sidelines,” said Glen McCallum, MN-S president.
“It was struggling, but to revive it, we have the right people available to do that.”
To have Canadian Geographic on board, is something McCallum said is crucial because rebuilding the language could have a major impact on the entire country.
“I want Canadians to know, we are your partners and we want you be part of this whole process. It will be affecting a lot of people who are teachers in universities and schools,” McCallum said.
Elements of the new program include a Michif Language Speakers Bureau to promote and teach the language, an online conversation forum and a free summer camp-style program during the 2020 Batoche Days – supported by the Canadian Geographic.
The magazine will also publish a feature story on the Michif language and its culture, reaching millions of Canadians.
“Our experience in publishing the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada was instrumental in guiding Canadian Geographic towards and upon its first steps on the path to reconciliation,” said Gilles Gagnier, Canadian Geographic’s publisher and chief operating officer.
“We are proud to continue this important journey, in partnership with the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan, as they fulfill the historic dream of Louis Riel in building their nation.”
MN-S said the program is just another example of their commitment to build a stronger path for future generations through education.